At the Paul VI Audience Hall today, Pope Francis received the families of Italian State Police officers killed or wounded in the line of duty. Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s address:
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome! I thank the Police Chief for the noble words he addressed to me in everyone’s name. In a particular way, I thank you, relatives of those who lost their life or have been seriously wounded in the exercise of their duty, for the witness of Christian hope that animates you and for your attachment to the institutions and to your mission. In fact, many of you wished to continue the work initiated by your spouses, wearing the uniform of the Police and serving the State.
Every honest occupation contributes to the good of all and, if carried out with dedication and passion, fosters the growth of the person and of society, also providing the necessary means for a free and dignified existence. Among the different professions, yours is configured as an authentic mission and entails the reception and concrete practice of attitudes and values of special importance for civil life. I am referring to the distinct sense of duty and discipline, willingness to sacrifice to the point, if necessary, of giving your life for the safeguarding of the public order, for respect for legality, for the defense of democracy and opposition to organized crime and terrorism.
Your mission calls for courage to help those who are in danger and to halt aggression. The community is indebted to you for the possibility to lead an ordered life, free from the oppression of the violent and the corrupt.
An existence committed on this front and centered on these ideals is valued highly by the Lord, and every sacrifice, made for the love of the common good, will be awarded by Him. I say it today in particular to you, relatives of the victims of the violent, who, finding in the forces of order the most arduous obstacle to their cruel designs, often hurling themselves against them.
Whoever serves the community with courage and abnegation, finds, together with the difficulties and risks connected with their role, a very lofty way of fulfilling themselves, because he walks on the way of Our Lord, who wished to serve and not to be served.
One who, day after day, assumes the seriousness and commitment of his work and puts it at the disposition of the community, and especially one who is in danger and finds himself in situations of grave difficulty, “goes out” to his neighbor and serves him. Acting in this way, he fulfills his life, also in the eventuality of losing it, as Jesus did dying on the cross.
Only by contemplating Jesus on the cross can we find the strength to forgive and the comfort that our crosses will also be redeemed by his, and that therefore every sacrifice and every tragedy will find rescue and redemption in Him.
The witness of Christian values is even more eloquent at this time, in which, the generous impulse of so many often is not followed by the capacity to incarnate it in a coherent and constant commitment. In fact, in our time it is easier to commit oneself to something provisional or partial. Instead, the action carried out by the Police Force calls for something solid in time, that, also in the changing of contingent situations, presents a constant that traverses the various epochs: that of guaranteeing legality and order for all citizens, and with these goods the possibility to enjoy all the others.
Moreover, in these years the action of the Police is able to make a decisive contribution to manage the impact of the current of refugees that arrive in Italy seeking refuge from war and persecutions. You are “in the front line” be it in the initial reception of migrants, be it in the work of opposition to the unscrupulous traffickers.
In this work – as the Chief of Police has rightly recalled – you are distinguished by your spirit of service and humanity, feeling yourselves driven, even before regulations and dispositions of the law, by the moral imperative to do good, to save as many persons as possible and not spare yourselves in giving your energies and time for such a commitment.
Dear brothers and sisters, be proud of your work and continue to serve the State, and every citizen and every person in danger. In defending the weak and legality you will find the truest meaning of your service and you will be an example to the country, which is in need of persons that serve it selflessly, generously and continually.
May Mary Most Holy Our Mother and Saint Michael the Archangel, your Patron, protect and assist you. I ask you, please, to pray for me and I bless you from my heart.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]