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Pope Francis’ Address to the Faithful in Scampia

“Life in Naples has never been easy, but it has never been sad! And this is your great asset: joy, happiness.”

Here is the translation of the Pope’s address this morning to the faithful gathered in John Paul II Square in the Scampia neighborhood of Naples.

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

I wanted to begin my visit to Naples from here, from this periphery. I greet you all and I thank you for your warm welcome! It can truly be seen that Neapolitans are not cold people! I thank your Archbishop for having invited me – even threatened if I did not come to Naples – for his words of welcome; and thanks to those who have given a voice to the reality of immigrants, of workers and the magistrates.

You belong to a people with a long history, crossed by complex and dramatic events. Life in Naples has never been easy, but it has never been sad! And this is your great asset: joy, happiness. The daily path in this city, with its difficulties and hardships and sometimes its hard trials, produces a culture of life that always helps to get up again after every fall, and to do so that evil will never have the last word. This is a beautiful challenge: never let evil have the last word. It is hope, as you know well, this great patrimony, this “leverage of the soul”, so precious, yet also exposed to assaults and robberies.

We know it, whoever voluntarily takes the path of evil robs a piece of hope, they gain a little something but robs hope from themselves, from others in society. The path of evil is a path that always robs hope, it robs also from honest and hard-working people, and also the good name of the city, of its economy.

I would like to respond to the sister who spoke in the name of the immigrants and those without a stable home. She asked for one word that assures that the migrants are sons of God and that they are citizens. But is it necessary to arrive to this? Are migrants second class human beings? We must listen to our migrant brothers and sisters who are citizens, who are like us, sons of God, who are migrants like us, because we are all migrants towards another land, and hopefully we will all arrive there. And may no one be lost on the way! We are all migrants, sons of God who have been placed on the path. You cannot say: “But migrants are like this…We are….”. No! We are all migrants, we are all on the path. And this word that we are all migrants is not written in a book, it is written in our flesh, in our path of life, that assures that in Jesus we are all sons of God, loved children, wanted children, saved children. Let us think about this: we are all migrants on the path of life, none of us have a fixed home on this earth, we all should go. And everyone should go to find God: first one, then another, or like that elderly person said, that crafty old man: “Yes, yes everyone! You go, I’ll go last!” We all must go.

Then there was an address by a worker. And I thank him, because naturally I wanted to touch upon this point that is a negative sign of our time. In a special way, it is for the lack of work for youth. But think: more than 40% of youth from 25 years and under are without work! This is serious! What does a young person do without work? What future do they have? What path of life do they choose? This is not just a responsibility of the city, not just of the country, but of the world! Why? Because there is an economic system that throws away people and now it is the young people’s turn to be thrown away, that is, without work. This is serious! “But there are charitable works, there are volunteers, there is Caritas, there’s this center, there’s that club that gives food to eat…” But the problem is not eating, the most serious problem is not being able to bring bread home, to not earn it! And when bread isn’t earned, one loses their dignity. We must fight for this, we must defend our dignity of citizens, of men, of women, of youth. This is the tragedy of our time. We must not remain in silence. I also think of ‘half-work’. What do I mean by this? The exploitation of people at work. Some weeks ago, a girl was in need of work, she found one at a tourism company and the conditions were these: 11 hours of work, 600 euros a month without any contribution to her pension. “But it’s very little for 11 hours!” “If you don’t like it, look at the line of people waiting for work!” This is called slavery, this is called exploitation, this is not human, this is not Christian. And if the person who does this says he is Christian, he is a liar, he is not saying the truth, he is not Christian. Even exploitation in “under the table” work – you work without a contract and I pay you what I want – is an exploitation of the person.  “Without the contribution for the pension and healthcare?” “I don’t care.”

I understand you well, brother, and I thank you for what you said. We must take on once again the fight for our dignity which is the fight to look for, to find, to find once again the possibility to bring bread home! This is our struggle!

And here I think of the address given by the President of the Court of Appeals. He used a beautiful expression: “the path of hope” and I remembered a saying of St. John Bosco: “good Christians and honest citizens”, to children and young men. The path of hope for children – those who are here and for all – is first and foremost education, but a true education, the path to educate for a future: this precedes and helps to go forward. The judge has said a word I would like to repeat, a word that is used a lot today, the judge said “corruption.” But, tell me, if we close the door to migrants, if we take away work and the dignity of people, what is this called? It is called corruption and we all have the possibility of becoming corrupt, none of us can say: “I will never be corrupt.” No! It is a temptation, it is a slippery slope towards what is easy, towards delinquency, towards crimes, towards the exploitation of the person. How much corruption there is in the world! It is an ugly word, if we think about it. Because something that is corrupt is something dirty! If we find a dead animal that is decaying, that is “corrupt”, it is ugly and even smells! A Christian that allows this corruption within is not a Christian, he stinks!

Dear friends, my presence would like to be an impulse to a . I know the generous and active commitment of the Church, present with its communities and its services in the heart of the reality of Scampia; as well as the continued mobilization of volunteer groups, who never fail to help.

I encourage also the presence and the active commitment of the Citizens Institutions, because a community cannot advance without their support, both in moments of crisis and in the presence of difficult social situations as well as extreme one. The “good politics” is a service to the people, that is exercised first at a local level, where the weight of failures, of delays, of the true and proper omissions are more direct and do more harm. The good politics is one of the highest expressions of charity, of service and of love. Do good politics, but amongst yourselves: politics is done together! Good politics are done among everyone!

Naples is always ready to rise, to make a leverage upon a hope forged by thousands of trials, and therefore an authentic and concrete resource which can be counted on in every moment. Its roots reside in the very souls of the Neapolitans, above all in their joy, in their religiosity, in their piety! I hope that you have the courage to go forward with this joy, with this root, the courage to bring forward hope, to never rob hope from no one, to go forward on the path of good, not on the path of evil, to go forward in welcoming all who come to Naples from any country: they are all Neapolitan, and they learn [the] Neapolitan [dialect] which is so sweet and so beautiful! I hope that you go forward in looking for sources of work, so that all may have the dignity of bringing bread home, and to go forward in the cleansing of your own soul, in the cleansing of the city, in the cleansing of society so that there won’t be that smell of corruption!

I wish you well, go forward and may Saint Januarius, your patron saint, assist you and intercede for you. I heartfully bless all of you, I bless your families and this, your neighborhood, I bless the children who are surrounding us. And you, please, do not forget to pray for me. ‘A Maronna v’accumpagne! [May Our Lady accompany you!] [Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]

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