Donate now

© Vatican Media

Pope’s Pastoral Visit to the Roman Parish of San Giulio in Monteverde (Full Text)

Discussions with Youth and Various Parish Groups

On April 7, 2019, the 5th Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father Francis went on a Pastoral Visit to the Roman parish of San Giulio in Monteverde, in the Western sector of the Diocese of Rome. The Holy Father met with various groups of the parish, heard several confessions, and celebrated Mass.

Then the Pope answered questions off-the-cuff, which were posed by young people. Here is a translation of the transcription of the Pope off-the-cuff words pronounced at the different meetings he had with the parish community in the course of the visit.

* * *

Meeting with the Sick and the Elderly

A Lady: 

We want to thank you for this visit, a privilege, and with much gratitude, we receive your visit among us as a gift of the Lord. We must thank you because, in all these years, you have taken us lovingly by the hand and led us to Jesus. Bless us, Father, we are sure that this meeting will be for all of us rich in fruits. We will always pray for you. We assure you of our constant prayer because we love you so much!

 A Gentleman:

Good evening, Holiness. I found the inspiration for this poem in St. Peter’s Square when, together with thousands of faithful, we waited to know you, the new Pope. Therefore, it recounts that moment. It’s written in Romanesque; we hope it won’t create problems for you.

Pope Francis:

 Thank you; thank you so much! In her greeting, the lady said that you were happy because today Peter came. It’s true, the Pope is Peter’s Successor, but this morning, someone asked me — a more or less 30-year-old fellow — said to me: “But is what our grandmother said true, that, as Successor of Peter, the Pope has Peter’s telephone number and calls him? “ It’s the first time I heard that! It’s amusing! No, no, I don’t have Peter’s mobile, but I try to do what Jesus asked Peter, to “confirm”: to confirm brothers in faith, in hope and in charity. And to tell you that yes, there is old age, there are sicknesses, there are so many problems, but Jesus is <with us>. And Jesus never, never disappoints! “But, Lord, I’m suffering . . . “ And what does Jesus say? “I also know what suffering is.” All the complaints we can make to Jesus, He transforms into prayer and presents them to the Father because He went through all these things before us. Don’t forget Jesus. Yes, hooray the Pope, hooray Peter, but Jesus, Jesus! <Don’t forget Jesus>. The other things are no good without Jesus; they don’t go forward. And how can we find Jesus? He listens to us; He sees us; He loves us. Speak to Him simply with our words, and also complain: Ah, yes, but Lord, it’s too much, it’s too much, it’s too much . . . “ Yes, say it; He understands.  However, don’t forget Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I don’t have Peter’s mobile, but we all have Jesus’ “mobile”, and we can all “connect ourselves” with Jesus, and there is always “openness” there, always, always! He always listens to us, because He is like this, close to us.

Thank you; thank you for your hospitality and your prayers. And pray for me, don’t forget. Now I’ll pray for you.

Now we pray together to Our Lady

[Blessing]

 Thank you for your hospitality.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester].

 

Meeting with Youngsters

 A Girl:

Welcome, Holiness, we hope that our greeting, the joy, and emotion we feel in seeing you, will reach you . . .

 A Boy:

Gathered in this structure, which has been our church for three years, is an essential part of the Christina journey, beginning with the children baptized in recent years, continuing with the children and youngsters preparing for their First Communion and Confirmation, up to arriving at the adolescents, the young people and their accompanying catechists. From <the moment> we learned from our parish priest, Father Dario, that you would be presiding over the rite of the Dedication of the Church of San Giulio, we have been preparing to welcome you in the best way and, as you can well imagine, many among us would have liked to ask you questions.

 A Girl:

 Eleonora and Carlotta will do so in the name of all of us.

 Eleonora:

 Have you, personally, ever give the poor something to eat?

 Pope Francis:

 Yes, I’ve done so several times; it’s something that all Christians should do, give the poor to eat personally. All of us, in a moment of our life ,were like the poor, we didn’t know how to eat; it was our mother who nursed us, to make us grow, to give us to eat . . . also us. Others don’t have anything to eat even as grownups, children like you, for example, don’t have anything to eat because their father doesn’t have work, and so there is hunger in that home. All of us must always do this gesture of giving others something to eat, as God gives us something to eat. Thank you.

Carlotta:

 Good evening, Holy Father. I’m Carlotta, I’m 20 years old and am one of the animators of adolescents. In these months we reflected with the youngsters on the relationship with God and, in the course of <our reflection> doubts arose. As Jesus said: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” we also — when life puts us to the test — also ask the same question. How can we entrust ourselves to Him without reservations?  Have you also doubted in the course of your life? If so, how did you rediscover the faith?

 Pope Francis:

 Thank you. At a certain moment, all, all men, all women, all children have doubts, it’s part of life to doubt. And to doubt is also, somewhat, to put God to the test: if it’s true that He is faithful if it’s true that He listens to us . . . Our doubts come, for instance, when there is sickness in the family, or when a father, a mother, a grandfather, a grandmother, a brother is missing . . . “Why, Lord?” Doubts come, always. In that moment we must bet on one thing: on Jesus’ fidelity. Jesus is faithful; He is the only one who is totally faithful. We are faithful to friends, but sometimes we aren’t faithful among ourselves. Instead, Jesus is always faithful. It’s a fidelity that never disappoints; sooner or later the Lord makes Himself felt. Don’t be afraid of doubts; don’t be afraid to doubt. I doubt, but I can share this doubt with others, discuss it <with them> and thus grow. Don’t be afraid. You, as responsible for the Confirmation candidates, teach them to doubt well, because if they don’t learn to doubt, they will do of Confirmation what some Romans say –it’s the “Sacrament of goodbye.” After Confirmation, many congratulations and we don’t see one another anymore . . . And they go away because they don’t know how to manage doubts. Instead, if you, as the one responsible, teach them to doubt well and to seek strong answers, true to the doubts, you prepare them so that Confirmation isn’t the “Sacrament of goodbye,” but he Sacrament of strength, which the Holy Spirit gives us. I don’t know if I’ve answered your question  . . . or would you like me to say something more . . .

Carlotta:

 With the youngsters, we wondered if you also, who are the greatest representative of the faith, ever had strong doubts in your life, which really put you to the test and how did you succeed in coming out of them?

 Pope Francis:

 I had many, many, many doubts. In the face of calamities, but also things that happened to me, in my life. How did I succeed in coming out of them . . . I think I didn’t succeed on my own; one can never come out of doubt on one’s own. You need the company of someone to help you go forward; therefore, it’s important to always be in a group, together, with friends . . . On your own, you never can. It also helps to speak with parents or friends or a catechist . . . but always talk with another. And then talk about your doubts with Jesus. Sometimes I’ve heard it said: “I don’t talk with Jesus because He ruined my life. I’m angry with Jesus . . . “ But to get angry with Jesus can also be a way of praying; it’s to say to Jesus: “Look at this thing, it makes me angry . . . “Jesus likes to see the truth of our heart. Don’t feign before Jesus. Before Jesus, it’s necessary to say things as you feel them. “I have this doubt, I don’t believe . . . I have this, that . . .” Speak this way, this is a good prayer, and He is so patient, He waits for us.

A few days ago, I received a letter from a fellow, he must be about 30 years old, and he said to me that after the experience of a failed engagement, he was full of anguish. He said this to me: “I am broken.” So often we feel like this, made to pieces inside, all destroyed, with the great total doubt: what can I do? Look at Jesus; complain to Him and a look for a friend to help you rise. Always, also when we have fallen — and in life we all have falls; we all have them — we must help one who has fallen rise. And think that the only moment when it’s all right to look at a person from above down is to help him rise, otherwise, we can’t look with superiority. Teach this also! Thank you.

A Boy:

 Holiness, now Greta and Maria Chiara would like to give you drawings made by children of the Elementary School of Piazza Forlanini, that espouse a charitable project called “Eccediamo,” which consists in giving anticipated snacks to needy people.

 [Handing of gifts – Recitation of the Hail Mary and Blessing]

 Pope Francis:

 And pray for me! However, I’ve seen something strange there . . . Do you know how to do well the sign of the cross? Let me see it . . . in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and some do this [he imitates the sign of the cross badly made]. Let us do it well together! “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” You must do it like this. Bye, thank you!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

Meeting with the Group of the Living Nativity Scene

 A Lady:

 Holy Father, we are honored to welcome you and meet with you on this very important day for us, which we consider of renewal of our parish be it in its walls but especially in its spirit. In particular, we represent the reality of the Living Nativity Scene of the parish of San Giulio: “Venite, Adoremus.”  In front of you, you see a small group of persons, in representation of the whole community that took part in making the Nativity scene in a totalizing way, complete and alive. Present, also are so many children, so many young people, about 400 persons, including extras and staff. We have a very brief history, but very intense and important. In the last three years, a simple parish of the neighborhood succeeded in making, with its strengths and God’s grace, the Living Nativity Scene for the whole city of Rome and its visitors.

A Gentleman:

 Our original objective to collect offerings for the reconstruction of the roof of our church became in time a gift for our fellow citizens and faithful that in every representation of the Nativity Scene decided to share with us the true meaning of Christmas, living the mystery and the emotions of the Nativity and of the family. In fact, from the first representations carried out in areas adjacent to our church and to the Oratory, we have arrived in the heart of the city of Rome, near the most beautiful archaeological site of Porta Asinaria, in front of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, with the support and patronage of the Vicariate and Municipality of Rome. We are direct witnesses of a most beautiful story of sharing, fraternity, and solidarity, of sacrifice for the common good. <It is> a tangible example of patience, faith, but especially of Christian joy. The images that the monitor is reproducing are the vivid memory of the experiences we lived in the last three years.

A Gentleman:

 Holy Father, what we would like to offer you and share with you today is a love that becomes fruitful. It’s the profuse commitment of San Giulio’s community of which we represent a small part, simple people of the parish, who put to common use their energies, their passions, competencies, and talents, succeeding in an undertaking that in its beginning seemed impossible, and Father Dario can tell you so. It really seemed impossible! What we have realized would not have been feasible without the active participation of our friends of the community of Piubega, represented here by our friends and brothers. The community of Piubega, country in Mantua where our parish priest, Father Dario Frattini, exercised his [ministry] before arriving in our parish, has a thirty-year experience in the construction and representation of the Living Nativity Scene. Today we like to think that the new church and that new roof are there thanks to the efforts, the services, and the emotions that the community of San Giulio offered in the realization of what to all of us seems to be a true, little, great miracle — the Living Nativity Scene of Rome. Thank you so much for the opportunity you have given us, for your being able to be here together with us. Thank you so much!

Pope Francis:

 Do sit down. I saw who made Herod . . . And who made Saint Joseph?

A Gentleman:

Saint Joseph? He’s not there . . . the parish priest!

Pope Francis:

 Ah, you! And is the Baby Jesus there?

A Gentleman:

 My daughter did Mary.

Pope Francis:

 You did Mary, how beautiful! And who did the Baby Jesus? Is he not there? . . . All right. I would like to ask another question, but I shall do so later. First I’ll tell you something that happened last year, no, the year before, 2017. In a very secular, very secular country of Europe — a religious symbol on public offices is prohibited, nothing; there isn’t a single Christian symbol or Jewish symbol or Muslim symbol, no, It’s all secular, one couldn’t do it, but the Mayor of that small city thought that the Nativity scene goes beyond, that it’s a symbol beyond religion, it’s also a cultural symbol, it attracts all . . . He thought so. The Mayor set up a beautiful Crib at the entrance of the office where he worked. And the people were happy because people don’t follow these nonsensical things that, as it’s a secular country, the Nativity Scene can’t be made. However, the news reached the Prefect of the region of that country, who got angry because what the Mayor did went against the State’s secularism. He grabbed the telephone, called the Mayor and said: How is it that you allowed the parish priest . . . “ – “No, I did it!” — But, how come?”  — “Yes, but the people are happy. Now that it’s there, we won’t take it away . . . “ — “Yes, you must take it away!” said the Prefect to the Mayor. And the Mayor answered: “Oh, too bad because I also wanted to pay homage to you and I put your photograph there.” And the Prefect said: “How much time is there to go yet?” – “Two weeks, little . . .” “All right, as a favor, yes.” He had heard about the photograph and was pleased. But send me a photo afterward” — “Yes, yes.” So the Crib happened, but the photo didn’t arrive and he claimed: “And the photo?” – “Yes, I sent it.” And he called the next day: “I received the photo, but I don’t see my photo, where did you put it?” – “Yes, it’s there; it’s there . . . “ But among the people? — “Yes” — “I’ll look.” He didn’t find it and called again and said: “But I don’t see myself there, tell me, on what side is it?” “In the left corner” “But there isn’t anything there” — “Yes, it’s your photo” — Who is it?” — “It’s the donkey!” This is historical, it’s historical, it’s not an imagination, it happened in 2017. And I ask you: who made the donkey now? Who made the donkey?. . [Laughs] Thank you for this. I didn’t know about this Living Nativity Scene, but today, while I had a bit of time, I took some books that arrived to see it, they arrived this week, and there was a small book called “Crib, the Living Gospel,” made by the Bishop of Chieti, where there was the history of the Crib in Neapolitan: it’s not understood, I don’t understand anything, but it’s very beautiful. By chance, I now find this one, you . . . “The Crib is — I liked the title — the Living Gospel.” Think that Saint Francis also evangelized only with this: to see Jesus, to imitate Jesus, to imitate Our Lady, to imitate Joseph, to imitate the simplicity of the shepherds, don’t imitate Herod! . . . Go forward! Thank you; thank you.

Children:

 Dear Pope Francis, we are called Chiara and Giulia, and today we’ll tell you about our experience. Thanks to mommy and daddy we lived a period in antiquity. Heard people wishing one another well, made us all so happy, identifying ourselves in the trades we recalled how it was yesterday. Observing the houses with lighted candles we took long walks. Every day we were present to open the shops. From children to the elderly, all came clapping their hands. We want to do the living Nativity Scene again, with the hope that you will come to see us!

Pope Francis:

 I’ll tell you one thing, which is a preview, which I just heard about. This year, with the Dicastery for the New Evangelization, we will have a day, a week of the Crib, to spur <people< to have the Crib in homes, in Squares. This is news that will be given by that Dicastery.

A Girl:

 Dear Pope Francis, I ’m Giorgia and I’m almost 9. This year I’ll make my First Communion; thanks to the family catecheses, I learned that communion means to share with you the joy and love that I feel in my small heart.

Pope Francis:

 Now let us pray to Our Lady.

[Blessing]  Pope Francis:

 Have they gone to Greccio? In community? I invite them to go. You [addressing the parish priest] organize it and then we’ll talk. It’s an invitation of mine; I invite them: they must go. You prepare everything and then let me know.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

 Meeting with Newlyweds

 A Woman:

 Holy Father, your presence today with all of us is a source of joy, of great emotion. It seems almost a dream to have you in the places where for three years, on the initiative of our Father Dario, the meetings have taken place of the journey towards the Sacrament of Marriage. Following, I will read reflections on conjugal love that emerged in the course of our meetings.

Love is a gift of God that makes us feel protected; it makes us rejoice to be able to grow old together after a journey and course of life taken by the hand. Love is to choose each other and understand, to see in time that even after years of marriage one is convinced that the choice made is the right one and, if ready to confirm and renew the choice, we choose each other again.  Love is to give oneself with patience, to be able to listen, to have the enthusiasm to seek each other. Love is to respect one another, but love is also to be able to accept the other’s weaknesses, the mistakes, the misunderstandings, the small human storms, which often arise in conjugal life. Love is to be aware that the couple always sees and feels the presence of Jesus; it is the awareness of sharing and living in three. The love of a couple is a safe place, it’s like the rock that challenges the elements on which our life is founded; it’s the place where one always feels at home.

A Man:

 Holy Father, we are here after a course, a journey, after having meditated a word of a common friend of ours, who tells us that love is placed more in works than in words. And after this, and after a long discernment, and especially after the work of convincing of Father Dario, and after many years together, the journey is allocated to other couples of preparation for marriage.  And some of these spouses asked us to be able to continue because they understood that that was only the beginning, not the end. The Sacrament was the seal to begin. And, therefore, we meet every month, alternating meetings of prayer and biblical meetings, in which instead we have the experience, we compare one another with couples of the Bible and this gives us great strength, great hope and makes us breathe a greater love than our own conjugal love. It makes us family of families.

A Woman:

 Holy Father, thank you for being here with us. It’s a great joy because we arrive after the journey of Lent where we remembered together the gifts received. Deuteronomy 8: “Remember, Israel.” We truly feel ourselves fortunate persons because we feel ourselves persons who have been saved. Our journey together is from slavery to freedom as a couple. We are walking thus. We invite you, unofficially, to participate. If you like, we can come to Saint Martha’s . . . [they laugh] We will then leave you the program, if you like, you can read it. Our son, James, the firstborn brings the second gift. We have seen that you already blessed the wedding rings. We ask you to bless them again because then we’ll exchange them . . . These are the colors of your Nation, Argentina; it’s a gift for you. We will then try to the best, the ways to remember for the spouses of the day of our marriage, of our Sacrament. The future spouses will have to have a bit of patience, we will pick up the rings again, and take them to them now with your blessing — an added value. We ask you, truly, to pray for us and we’ll do the same for you. 

Pope Francis:

 I like this because thought is given to preparation for marriage. Once, in  “another diocese,” a lady came who had been married for years, <and> was somewhat angry, saying to me: “You are unjust with us because to become a priest you must study 8, 9 years. The Bishop assesses, the Superiors assess the candidate and then accept him to be a priest. And then this priest goes on and, if he doesn’t like it, he takes another path and the Church says to him: yes, you can get married, go away and marry. And we, that [unite ourselves] for life, are systematized with four conferences?  No, it’s not right.” Preparation for marriage is not to attend four conferences — all theoretical –, no. And then it doesn’t work.  Preparation is a journey, a catechumenate.” When adults want to be Baptized, they must learn the Doctrine, they must undertake a journey with the community. Marriage is the same; it’s a catechumenate. The previous preparation is not only to know something about marriage but it is to coexist with the community, to hear other people’s experiences, to share the doubts. And the catechumenate doesn’t end there. It’s very important that it continue after the wedding and that it accompanies the first times, the first years of marriage. And it pleases me to see that this is being done; it’s very important.

I will say only two things. The first, there are three keywords for marital life, perhaps you know them, but they must be learned with the mind and the heart: “May I?”, “thank you,” “sorry.” “May I?” Always ask permission of the wife or husband, don’t be intrusive, you are a twosome. Yes, when I was alone I did what I wanted, but now you are a twosome.  Always say: “May I?” without being intrusive. “Thank you.” To thank: “thank you.” Let’s not forget to say thank you to each other. It’s so important that, after lunch, the husband thank his wife: lunch was good.” And then also the wife to the husband . . . Thank you. Always thank you, thank you for the children.  And “sorry.” To have the humility to say: yes, I made a mistake, I’m sorry — period and end of story. If this third word is not there, the story continues and it’s awful.

And here is the second thing I want to say. In normal marriages there are quarrels; there are quarrels. It’s not necessary to be afraid of quarreling. When the “bomb” explodes a say three or four things, plates also fly, but new plates can be bought, it’s not a problem  . . . However, there is only one important thing: do not end the day without making peace. Why? Because of the cold war of the day after is very dangerous. “Yes, but after all that I said and that was said to me, how will I make peace?” It’s simple, do like this [a caress] and goodbye. The story is finished. The day ends in peace, and with this, we spare ourselves so many sorrows — the three words and peace at the end. And don’t forget about that cold war of the day after, which is the woodworm that begins to ruin a marriage.

Thank you; thank you for the witness.

Now we pray to Our Lady and Saint Joseph for you.

[He recites the Hail Mary and Blessing]

 And forward, courage!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

  

Meeting with Caritas Volunteers

 A Gentleman:

 Holiness, Eminence, Excellency, good afternoon; good afternoon also to all of us, to all of you. I address you as spokesman of the parish charity. We represent a part of the community, which is characterized specifically by concrete actions in favor of needy persons. To welcome you here is an extraordinary incentive to continue on the path undertaken following your invitation to offer concrete signs of solidarity in face of the temptation to indifference: the center of hospitality,  the collection, and distribution of food, clothes and medicines, the food bank, which touch the poorest parts of our territory. Charity is also to be concerned with social interaction through communication and meeting with the circle of friendship, of embrace, the circle of men, the newspaper and the Website which helps families with the presence of an after-school <center> that receives children weekly, especially foreigners, and of a family consulting room that offers truly precious consultations. In this parish, since 1998, the Gemma Project is present — perhaps following the example that Saint John Paul II gave us — that helping mothers in difficulty to continue the pregnancy, promotes the culture of life. Culture of life that also the Sant’Egidio Community, present here with some of its representatives, is present in our territory, which spurs us to spread. Moreover, we have sought  — you requested it in 2015 — to receive a migrant; it hasn’t been possible, however, we are addressing other human fragilities in our territory to be able to integrate, perhaps with a work contract and with our hospitality. This year then, collaborating with the diocesan Caritas, in regard to the cold emergency, we received three persons that our parish priest introduced to you, with the commitment of many families of our community.  I was truly a mass, moving initiative. We also have a service for the collection of blood to donate to the Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital.

Holiness, with this list I hope I have not given you the impression of a “charity supermarket,” an expression that the Director of the diocesan Caritas used when he came here to us to make us understand in fact that the parish isn’t the place where each one enters, chooses something, and goes away. I assure you it isn’t like that.  We are in an assiduous connection among ourselves; we all move together, each one with his competencies and with one objective, to reach the other in the name of the Gospel.  We have a dream we want to realize and that we call “Office of Solidarity.” It’s a project in need of spaces and of re-structuring the existing ones, but which we want to carry out with your consent and with the help of the diocese if it can. In fact, shortly the oncological pole of the Bambino Gesus will be born in our district: we want to be ready to offer hospitality and assistance to the families of the small patients.  Through the acceptance of these many realities, although with our limitations, we wish intensely to share a wider idea of the family, of the Church, in fraternal union between ourselves an others, as children of the one Father. We will not fail in our prayers for your person and for your mission, for your pastoral ministry. We would also like you to take our greeting to the Pope Emeritus, His Holiness Benedict XVI. Finally, but not last, thank you, thank you; thank you for your precious presence!

Pope Francis:

 I’ll say that there are three signs that make one see that a parish is all right. The first is prayer, when people pray: a parish that prays, that people come to pray and also pray at home. This is the first sign. To see: is there prayer here or no prayer here? And this is one of the things that avoid falling into that “supermarket” we heard about, because prayer transforms everything, everything. Second, is there charity of facts, this that you do. To take care of the needs of brothers, of sisters, of families . . . Also the hidden needs, which are not shown out of shame, but they are there, there are so many . . . And always with that industrious charity, an active charity, the charity of the “yes”: “yes, I’ll do this,” of the active “yes.” It’s the second sign.  And the third is passive charity. What does passive charity mean? It means that you love one another and don’t criticize each other. Gossip is a very strong sickness, and when there is gossip in a parish, the parish isn’t all right. It’s a vice that enters; it enters subtly: to bring news to speak badly of others . . . No, please, this isn’t right.

Now we’ll pray together to Our Lady.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

About Virginia Forrester

Share this Entry

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation