Intervention of H.E. Msgr. Vincenzo Bertolone
Archbishop of Catanzaro-Squillace
I greet with great affection Msgr. Santoro, Msgr. Ciliberti, greet Msgr. Nichie, African brother, I simply mention the name to avoid distorting the surname Msgr. Nestor, I greet with affection Mrs. Maria Marino, Cettina Marraffa who is sick in bed as you know, Msgr. Costantino, Fr. Gesualdo and all of you dear ones who have come to this Convention, but I greet with particular attention all the organizers who have made the effort, in order to ensure that everything was well prepared, I also greet those who are present at this Convention, especially those who come from far.
This VII National Convention of the Apostolic Movement which has as its theme “The joy of the Gospel source of the new humanism” connects us directly to the journey of the Italian Church which will have her point of arrival and departure in the Convention in Florence next November. The theme of this Convention explicitly evokes the apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium” in which Pope Francis collected the votes of the 13th general assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith, but he also summarized the salient and programmatic points of the his pontificate.
Everything you want to know about the new evangelization can be found in the “Evangelii gaudium” the Holy Father told us on last May 18. The first of these salient points is a real push to take action to elaborate pastoral planning at the local level, “I don’t think, the Pope writes in n.16, we must expect a definitive and complete word from the papal magisterium on all issues concerning the Church and the world, it is not appropriate for the Pope to replace the local episcopates”, so as to say also your by now European and African experience as ecclesial and universal Apostolic Movement in that it was born from and in a particular Church and from the magisterium of its Bishop at the service of a particular territory and of the Church.
Today, you who are a beautiful fruit of the vitality of a particular Southern Church, but outgoing towards the whole world and its continents, discuss and deepen the possibility that the Gospel, Jesus Christ, can truly become the source and propulsive force of a new humanism or more precisely to give a new soul to the world. The Church is called to announce the good news of Jesus to all peoples and all nations.
In addition to the many works of mercy with which the Church must make Jesus’ love visible, she must also joyfully announce the great mystery of God’s salvation through the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. The history of Jesus must be proclaimed and celebrated, some will listen to it and rejoice, others will remain indifferent and still others will become hostile. We who know history and try to live it have the joyful task of narrating it to others.
When our words are born from a heart full of love and gratitude they bear fruit, when we perceive that we have been freed from sin, sadness, inner emptiness and isolation or when we realize we have been fascinated and converted by Jesus Christ, joy is born or reborn in us, “Evangelii gaudium” precisely. It is the sweet joy of Christian love, it is the heartbeat of the enthusiasm of being able to do good, that is, to rediscover the true nature and true mission of what we call human beings. What is human we try to say it in the negative to better understand it. It is not inhuman, it is not superhuman, it is not subhuman and I will tell you why. Inhuman would mean the denial of the dignity of human beings to the point of making cruelty and ruthlessness prevail rather than piety, compassion and understanding towards one’s fellow man; superhuman would mean superior to what belongs to the human person by nature as if it belonged to the angelic nature or to the divine nature; subhuman would qualify that he is in an inferiour condition to the human one, as unfortunately happens to so many of our made hungry and thirsty brothers and sisters by the economy of power of abuse and instead await the bite of the poor from us all.
Dear brothers and sisters, One of the Three, having assumed the human flesh and soul from Mary in God, thus opened the way, joyful in the reconstruction of the integral humanum, as had been thought by the Father at the moment of creation, an integrated human being, declined in the male female dyad, is not a myth or a fable but a true reality. In confirmation of the holiness of the original plan, God became man for us men and for our salvation and all this offers us the well-founded opportunity for the joy of the Christian faith. If the joy of faith begins to awaken even in the midst of anguish, abuse, oppression and the many forms of subordination, of violence against the dignity of persons, including immigrants, against the dignity of every member of humanity regardless of ethnicity, gender, age and professed political and religious ideas. If this joy begins to awaken and advance and ignite like a fuse of the fire of the Spirit, like an intimate, firm faith that will change the world despite the anguish and the tragedies caused by human wickedness when it lets itself be seduced by the evil one.
Faith in Jesus Christ is never a banal pretext of pleasure like those offered by society but it is the condition for procuring joy and genuine joy, Pope Francis writes in “Evangelii gaudio” n. 7, the genuine joy of those who, even in the midst of great commitments, have been able to keep a believing, generous and simple heart. We all have a believing, generous, simple heart and in love with the risen Lord flooded by the Holy Spirit eager to return to the Father, a joy that cannot be jealously kept for oneself but must be shared, precisely a joy that goes out, an outgoing and in movement joy, in a missionary apostolic outgoing as it is today, the Catholic Church hears repeated over and over by Pope Francis.
It can be said that joy belongs to the heart of the biblical message, the experience of salvation is associated with the encounter with God; therefore salvation is the encounter with God and this is a source of joy, of great joy.
Now whoever shares a joy signals a beautiful horizon, a horizon beyond the source of joy which is precisely Jesus Christ. You too in this Convention allude to a source the joy of the Gospel that is our beautiful Lord who takes care of his people and saves them.
The psalmist had stopped in amazement in front of the mystery of the human being and had exclaimed: “You, God, have made man a little less than a God, you have crowned him with glory and honour”. In a less lyrical and religious form but with the same admiration one of the seven wise men of Greek antiquity, Democritus Of Abilera, we are in the V – IV century. B.C. a contemporary of Socrates, he had defined man a small universe anthroposmicros cosmos, this microcosm contains within itself the extremes of the infinite with his thought and his spirit but also fragile and immortal creature trait.
These extremes of the infinite rejoined at the moment in which God became man and came to dwell among us, in this sense your Convention dear friends of the Movement is like the preview of the V National Ecclesial Convention that will be celebrated in Florence next November and which has as its theme, as has already been said, “In Jesus Christ the new humanism”.
This title is the beam of light that comes from our Christocentric faith and intends to illuminate a whole series of human and pastoral needs emerging a little everywhere but especially where humanity languishes or has even been eliminated. We will have to learn a new grammar of the human: the one suggested by Pope Francis having almost come from the end of the world, as he defined himself as soon as he was elected, speaking from the lodge of St. Peter and asking people to bless him, before blessing the crowd himself.
A new dynamism that now infects all social strata, people and institutions, is the human grammar of the Bishop of Rome, whose vocabulary insists on existential peripheries and social waste and prefers verbal forms such as making us neighbours, approaching the places where the many live in the indifference of the many, to open the doors of mercy, of forgiveness, to those who repent and compensate for the evil, the evil done. Against all self-referentiality we keep in a mother Church an outgoing woman mother who, like Queen Esther, chooses to humble herself because the Lord knows how to do great things with the least and with those who recognize themselves as fragile in order to reach everyone and announce again a possible humanism in order to save the people of believers whom adverse forces always want to condemn to marginalization, annulment, but with this humility and with this spirit one wins.
Before sins and doctrines, this woman mother, sister and bride knows how to take care of those who are fragile and awaits mercy and invites everyone to quench their thirst with the joy of the Gospel.
Good listening, good reflection and good action.
Rev. Msgr. Vincenzo Bertolone