On the occasion of the 37th annual Meeting for Friendship among Peoples, which opened today at Rimini on the theme “You Are a Good for Me,” Pope Francis sent a Message, through the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, to the Bishop, Monsignor Lambast. The meeting closes Aug. 25.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Message
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To His Most Reverend Excellency,
Monsignor Francesco Lambiasi, Bishop of Rimini
Most Reverend Excellency, on the occasion of the 37th Meeting for Friendship among People, I am happy to express to you, to the organizers, to the volunteers and to all those taking part the auspicious greeting of the Holy Father Francis, together with my personal wish for every good for this significant event.
The title of the Meeting – “You Are a Good for Me” – is courageous. In fact, courage is needed to affirm this, while so many aspects of the reality that surrounds us seem to lead in the opposite sense. Too often one yields to the temptation to close oneself in the restricted horizon of one’s own interests, so that others become something superfluous, or worst still, an annoyance, an obstacle. But this is not in keeping with our nature: as children we discover the beauty of the bond between human beings; we learn to encounter the other, recognizing and respecting him as interlocutor and as brother, because he is a child of our common Father who is in Heaven. Individualism, instead, distances people; it picks up especially their limitations and defects, weakening the desire and the capacity of a coexistence in which each one can be free and happy in the company of others, with the richness of their diversity.
In face of the threats to the peace and security of peoples and nations, we are called to be aware that it is, first of all, an existential insecurity, which makes us be afraid of the other, as if he were our antagonist, who takes away our vital space and goes beyond the boundaries that we have built for ourselves. In face of the changing times in which we are all involved, can one think of saving oneself on one’s own and with one’s own strength? It is the presumption that is at the origin of every conflict among men.
Following the example of the Lord Jesus, a Christian cultivates always an open thought towards the other, whoever he is, because he does not consider any person as lost definitively. The Gospel gives us a thought-provoking image of this attitude: the Prodigal Son who feeds the pigs and the Father who every evening goes out on the terrace to see if he is coming home and he hopes, despite everything and everyone.
How our world would change if this unbounded hope became the lens with which men look at one another! Jesus looked at the publican Zacchaeus and at the good thief on the cross as creatures of God, in need of the saving embrace. And finally Judas, precisely while delivering Him to His adversaries, heard himself called “friend” by Jesus.
There is a word that we must never tire of repeating and especially of witnessing: dialogue. We will discover that to open to others does not impoverish our gaze but makes us richer because it makes us recognize the truth of the other, the importance of his experience and the background of what he says, even when he hides behind attitudes and choices that we do not share.
A true encounter implies the clarity of one’s identity, but at the same time the willingness to put oneself in the other’s shoes to perceive, below the surface, what agitates his heart, what he is truly seeking. In this way, that dialogue can begin that makes the path advance towards new syntheses that enrich one and the other. This is the challenge before which all men of good will find themselves.
Many upheavals before which we often feel impotent, in reality are a mysterious invitation to rediscover the foundations of communion between men for a new beginning. In face of all this, what contribution can we, disciples of Jesus, make? Our task coincides with the mission for which we were chosen by God: it is “the proclamation of the Gospel, which today is translated above all in going to meet man’s wounds, bringing the strong and simple presence of Jesus, His consoling and encouraging mercy (Francis, Address on the occasion of the Charlemagne Prize, May 6, 2016).
This is the Holy Father’s wish, who encourages the participants in the Meeting to give every care to personal creative witness, in the awareness that what attracts, what conquers and loosens chains is not the strength of the instruments, but the tenacious meekness of the merciful love of the Father, which everyone can draw from the source of grace that God offers in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance, to then give it to our neighbor. He exhorts to continue in the commitment of closeness to others, vying in serving them joyfully, in keeping with Don Giussani’s teaching: “The Christian gaze vibrates with an impetus that renders him capable to exalt all the good that is in all that he meets, in as much as it makes him see himself a participant in that design whose actuation will be realized in eternity and which was revealed in Christ” (L. Giussani – S. Albert – J. Prades, Generare Tracce nella Storia del Mondo, Rizzoli, Milan, 1998, p. 157).
With these sentiments, His Holiness invokes upon Your Excellency, upon the organizers, the participants and the numerous volunteers of the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples the light of the Holy Spirit, for a fruitful experience of faith and fraternal communion and, while he asks that you pray for him, he willingly sends the Apostolic Blessing.
In requesting Your Excellency to also assure <all> of my personal good wishes, I take advantage of the circumstance to express my kind regards to Your Most Reverend Excellency.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]