“Be passionate and dream,” was Pope Francis’ invitation today to persons living “in precarious conditions.” The audience, and his 20-minute off-the-cuff address in Spanish, were part of the activities for the Jubilee for the Socially Excluded.
Today’s audience brought some 6,000 people to Rome, men and women from various European nations, who have lived, or are even now, living on the street.
The Jubilee further welcomed not only the homeless, but also disadvantaged persons and people living in poverty.
The event was made possible with the help of “Fratello,” an association which organizes and hosts events with and for people in situations of exclusion, in partnership with associations assisting these people.
Following testimonies from two of the participants, Pope Francis addressed the crowd, thanking them for coming to Rome to meet with him and to pray for him. The Holy Father reflected on some of the ideas brought up by the two people who spoke before him.
The Holy Father spoke to them of the passion that sometimes makes us suffer, puts internal and external obstacles in us, the passion of sickness, but also the passion to go forward, the good passion that leads to dream.
Moreover, he assured them that for him a person is poor when he loses “the capacity to dream, to lead a passion forward.” Therefore, the Pontiff asked them to not cease dreaming; “dream that one day the world will change.”
In that same line, he stressed that “poverty is at the heart of the Gospel.” Only one who feels he is lacking something, looks up and dreams, he said. One who has everything cannot dream.”
The Pontiff asked those present to teach “all of us who have a roof, who do not lack food or medicine.” “Teach us,” he exhorted, “not to be satisfied.”
Another concept to which the Pope made reference in his address was dignity, that is, “to find a beautiful life in the worst situations.” Only a man or a woman with dignity has the capacity to find beauty even in the saddest and most distressing things. “Poor yes, but not dragged-down. That is dignity,” said the Pope.
This is “the same dignity that Jesus had, who was born poor, lived poor.”
“Poor yes, dominated no, exploited no.” This sentiment of seeing that life is beautiful, “this dignity has saved you from being slaves,” he noted. “Poor yes, slaves no.” Moreover, he reflected on the meaning of solidarity. “To be able to help, to give a hand to one who is suffering more than I am.”
“The capacity to be solidaristic is one of the fruits that poverty gives us,” he continued.
“When there is much wealth one forgets to be solidaristic because one is accustomed to not lacking anything,” he warned. While “poverty makes one solidaristic and one stretches one’s hand to one who is going through a more difficult situation.” Therefore, the Holy Father thanked those present for the example they give and he asked them to teach this solidarity to the world.
The Pontiff also spoke of peace: “the peace that for us Christians began in a stable, in a marginalized family.” Therefore, Francis assured those present that they are “architects of peace.” In this connection, he noted: “wars are carried out between the rich to have more.” So, he continued, “it’s very sad when war is carried out amon
g the poor.” From their poverty, the poor are more inclined to be architects of peace, and, he affirmed: “all religions need to grow in peace because all religions are messengers of peace.”
In the last part of his address, the Pontiff asked for forgiveness, if at some time he offended them with his words or he did not say things he should have said. He also asked them for forgiveness in the name of Christians who read the Gospel, “not finding poverty at the center.” I ask for forgiveness — said the Pope — for Christians who before a poor person or a situation of poverty look the other way. At the same time, he assured the participants in the meeting that their forgiveness “is holy water for us.” It is, he added, to help us to believe again that poverty is at the heart of the Gospel as a great message.
At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father made this prayer: ”God, Father of us all, of each one of your children, I ask you to give us fortitude, that you give us joy, that you teach us to dream to look ahead. That you teach us to be solidaristic because we are brothers and that you help us to defend our dignity. You are the Father of each one of us. Bless us. Amen.”