On May 25, 2019, the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in Paul VI Hall, the pilgrimage of the Eparchy of Lungro of the Italian-Albanians of Continental Italy, gathered in Rome on the occasion of the centenary of the Eparchy’s institution.
Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to them in the course of the meeting.
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The Holy Father’s Address
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I’m happy to receive you and to express to each one of you my warm welcome. On this joyous occasion, the centenary of the Apostolic Constitution Catholic Faithful, with which Pope Benedict XV erected the Eparchy of Lungro, you have come to Rome with your Pastor, Monsignor Donato Oliverio, to express before the whole Catholic Church the faith and communion of your beloved Community. I thank you for this visit and for the witness you give.
One hundred years ago, while World War I lacerated the world, my Venerable Predecessor listened to history, to your legitimate needs, as well as your courageous spiritual itinerary, characterized by fidelity to Tradition, despite the difficulties and sufferings. The Pope had the Eastern Church very much at heart and wondered “what must be done to come to meet with greater firmness the needs and right decor of the universal Church and of the other particular Churches.” Therefore, he decreed “a diocese of Greek Rite should be canonically instituted immediately in the land of Calabria” (Bull Catholici Fideles).
This important anniversary constitutes an opportunity to thank the Lord for all that He has done, in His goodness and mercy, in your community in the last centuries. Therefore, I invite you to live this Jubilee not so much as an accomplishment, but rather as a new and joyous passion in your human commitment and your Christian journey. In this connection, it’s all the more necessary to reflect further on the past and make it a happy memory, to find in it reasons to hope and to walk together towards the future God wills to give you.
I encourage you to receive even more in you and among you the love of the Lord, source, and motive of our true joy; to take part in the Sacraments; to express closeness to every family; to pay attention to the poorest and the neediest; to accompany the young generations in the great educational challenge that involves us all: these are the dimensions in which to protect your traditions as well as your belonging to Christ and to His Church. You are called to live as Christians, witnessing that love is more beautiful than hatred, that friendship is more beautiful than enmity, that brotherhood among all of us is more beautiful than conflicts.
Today our prayer and our gratitude are dedicated also to those that rejoice with us from Heaven. All those that have transmitted the faith to you with their life even before then with their words, in particular, I think of Bishops, Priests, Religious, parents and grandparents who have preceded you and who protected and handed down the riches of your beautiful Tradition. Imitate their example and hand down that spiritual patrimony, which identifies you, to the new generations.
May the maternal protection of the Holy Mother of God, the Hodegitria accompany you in your daily path. May She, the obedient handmaid who received the word of the Lord, make you ever more docile to the Father’s will and generous instruments of His plan of salvation.
Dear brothers and sisters: thank you again for this visit, and best wishes on your centenary!
I ask you, please, to pray for me, and I impart to you all my heartfelt Blessing, which I readily extend to your families and to the whole Eparchy of Lungro.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
© Libreria Editrice Vatican