This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 in St. Peter’s Square, for the first time this year, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
Continuing with the series of catecheses on the theme of Christian hope, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the theme: “For in this hope, we were saved” (cf. Romans 8:19-27).
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present. Then he made an appeal for the grave situation in South Sudan.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
Below is a ZENIT working translation of the Holy Father’s remarks:
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The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We are often tempted to think that Creation is our property, a possession that we can exploit to our pleasure and to which we must render account to no one. In the passage of the Letter to the Romans (8:19-27), of which we just heard a part, the Apostle Paul reminds us, instead, that Creation is a wonderful gift that God has put in our hands, so that we can enter in relationship with Him and recognize the sign of His design of love, to whose realization we are all called to collaborate, day after day.
However, when the human being lets himself be gripped by egoism, he ends up by ruining even the most beautiful things that were entrusted to him. And so it has happened also with Creation. We think of water. Water is a most beautiful thing and so important; water gives us life, it helps us in everything but to exploit minerals water is contaminated, Creation is soiled and destroyed. This is only one example. There are so many. With the tragic experience of sin, communion with God broken, we have broken the original communion with all that surrounds us and we have ended up by corrupting Creation, thus rendering it a slave, subject to our perishability. And, unfortunately, the consequence of all this is dramatically before our eyes every day. When man breaks his communion with God, he loses his original beauty and ends up disfiguring everything around him; and where everything at first referred back to the Father-Creator and to His infinite love, now it bears the sad and desolate sign of human pride and voracity. Human pride, exploiting Creation, destroys.
However, the Lord does not leave us alone and, even in this desolate picture, He offers us a new prospect of liberation, of universal salvation. It is what Paul makes evident with joy, inviting us to listen to the groaning of the whole of Creation. In fact, if we pay attention, everything around us groans: Creation itself groans, we human beings groan and the Spirit groans within us, in our heart. Now, these groans are not a sterile, disconsolate lament but – as the Apostle specifies – they are the groans of one giving birth; they are the groans of one who suffers, but who knows that a new life is about to come to light. And in our case it is truly so. We are still dealing with the consequences of our sin and everything around us still bears the sign of our toils, of our failures, of our closures. At the same time, however, we know that the Lord has saved us and it has already been given to us to contemplate and to enjoy in ourselves and in what surrounds us signs of the Resurrection, of Easter, which brings about a new Creation.
This is the content of our hope. A Christian does not live outside the world; he is able to recognize in his life and in what surrounds him signs of evil, of egoism and of sin. He is supportive of those who suffer, of those who weep, of those who are marginalized, of those who feel desperate …. But, at the same time, a Christian has learned to read all this with the eyes of Easter, with the eyes of the Risen Christ. And so he knows that we are living a time of expectation, a time of longing that of goes beyond the present, the time of fulfilment. We know in hope that the Lord wants to heal, definitively with His mercy, wounded and humiliated hearts and all that man has disfigured in his impiety, and that thus He will regenerate a new world and a new humanity, finally reconciled in His love.
How many times we Christians are tempted to disappointment, to pessimism. Sometimes we let ourselves fall into useless lament or we remain without words and we do not even know what to ask for, what to hope for … However, once again the Holy Spirit comes to help us, breath of our hope, who keeps alive the groan and expectation of our heart. The Spirit sees for us beyond the negative appearances of the present and already now reveals to us the new heavens and the new earth that the Lord is preparing for humanity.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to receive the Deacons of the Diocese of Milan and of the Society of Mary, as well as the delegation of the “Benedictine Torch of Peace,” with the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Monsignor Renato Boccardo, the Abbot of Montecassino, Dom Donato Ogliari and the Abbot of Subiaco, Dom Mauro Meacci: I invite each one to become a promoter of the culture of peace in every realm of life.
I greet the Mayor and the delegation of the town of Farindola, stricken a month ago by the avalanche that destroyed a hotel, causing numerous victims. I greet the Royal Arch-Confraternity of Piedmonte Matese with the Bishop of Alife-Caiazzo, Monsignor Valentino Di Cerbo; the participants in the manifestation against bullying with the Bishop of Palestrina, Monsignor Domenico Sigalini and the members of the Sophia Naval Operation, geared to the prevention of tragedies of human beings in the Mediterranean. I greet the members of the “Giuseppe Toniolo” Bank of Cooperative Credit of Genzano of Rome, La Stanza Accanto Association and the artists of the Rony Rollers Circus, thanking them for their performance. They create beauty! And beauty leads us to God. It is a way to come to God. Continue to create beauty! Continue, as it does us all good. Thank you!
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the feast of the See of Saint Peter the Apostle, day of special communion of believers with the Successor of Saint Peter and with the Holy See. Dear young people, I encourage you to intensify your prayer for my Petrine ministry; dear sick, I thank you for the testimony of life given in suffering for the edification of the ecclesial community; and you, dear newlyweds, build your family on the same love that binds the Lord Jesus to His Church.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
The Holy Father’s Appeal
Of particular concern is the painful news reaching us of martyred South Sudan, where, joined to a fratricidal conflict, is a grave food crisis that scourges the region of the Horn of Africa and that condemns millions of people to death due to hunger, among them many children. At this moment, more than ever the commitment of all is necessary not to stop a declarations but to render food aid concrete and to enable it to reach the suffering populations. May the Lord sustain these brothers of ours and all those who work to help them.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]