Speech of H.E. Archbishop Filippo Santoro
Archbishop of Taranto
Transcription from audio recording
Thank you. First of all, I am very grateful and happy for the invitation to participate and to give my contribution to this VII National Congress of the Apostolic Movement. I greet His Excellency Monsignor Bertolone, Monsignor Ciliberti, our confrere from Africa, the priests present, I greet Fr. Gesualdo, all of you present here an the founder. I want to communicate simply that, I would like to convey, eh … an experience together with a little theology as if we were speaking, chatting, conversing about what fills the heart, what makes us be happy, what has allowed us to live differently with a joy so as to communicate it to others as well. As you heard from the CV, at some point in my life after twelve years of priesthood I suddenly received the invitation to go on a mission to Brazil, and eh … I had never thought about it, my bishop heard a proposal from Fr Giussani that there was a need in Brazil for the eh… of a priest who would teach theology in a Catholic university in Rio de Janeiro and then also who would work with young people, in the favelas, in the most complex situations.
I was offered the proposal in these terms “Would you willingly go to Brazil?”, so that I said “If you have to go hard, I go out of obedience, but Jesus gives me a cross”, No! You would go… “because if you don’t go willingly stay home and goodnight”. So I said “Well, if the Church asks me it means that it is Jesus who asks me it and when He asked me something it always went well, in the sense that it is like having, having had the proposal to make a greater journey, obeying circumstances, obeying the invitations that the Lord gives me. So I left, I left on a mission eh and it was an extraordinary experience. Just to tell you, when I left, I left, I am originally from the Archdiocese of Bari. When I departed from Bari, 84, my students and friends, there was a lot of people, especially young people, came to greet me at the airport. They had them stay on the runway, because there were many and were greeting me. Then, I went to the plane, I sat down and the captain said to me “Are you Fr. Filippo?”, “Yes”. “Go a little bit on the stair”, then there was the stair, “and greet the people”. As it was evening, everyone, at that time, as it was usual, the thing was a bit hippie, with marked accents, hello, big greetings and tears etc. etc. I go take a sit. The plane, the plane leaves and after the plane leaves, the captain leaves control to the second pilot and comes to sit next to me and says “But are you a priest?”, “Yes, I’m a priest”, “And all those young people, what were all those young people doing? I am a father of a family, I know how difficult it is for young people to go to Church things, etc …”, “No, they are all my friends”, “No because it seemed to me that with all those young people there you were a pop-rock singer.” [Laughter and applause].
I said “No, no, I am really a priest, I taught in high schools I also had teachings in the university, I was in charge of the institute of theology for the laity and so I went”. Then after he greets me, he goes to take control, the descent begins, before starting the descent, he comes and sits next to me again. “But are you really a priest?” “Yes, I am really a priest”. He wasn’t convinced. “I am really a priest”. “But look, I really have to change my mind, because, because if so many guys come here, at the airport, one evening, who could hang around, to greet a priest, there must be something bigger underneath, I’m from Bologna, I had abandoned the Church twenty years ago, I had had some problems in my parish”, it happens we priests know how these things work…, “and I turned away, but now seeing that so many boys and young people come here to Church, I have to change my mind, I’ll go back to my parish”, I said “Look, without even saying a word, I started my mission”. This is a gift from God. [Applause]. That is to say that, sometimes we don’t even have to say anything, the facts that the Lord does build, for having said yes to Him.
So that was the beginning. Then later, oh well, now if I start telling the whole story, but the facts are important because then, because then, because then, having arrived in Rio de Janeiro, we were in the years of the military dictatorship in Brazil, and they gave a hard time priests to who came and went to Brazil, because they thought that they were all communist infiltrators, terrorists, things like that… aho that of me too who was a Catholic priest, the former did not believe it, but neither did the others believe it. Then they stop me and say “I do bring everything in order, my visa” and says “No, look I take the X-rays to have the visa, no radiographs” and then and I bring that little one with the result below, “No” , to create me problems, “the big x-ray, the big one is necessary”, “Excuse me but in the same it says …”, “No, no no no”, “Just leave me your passport and everything else otherwise you go in jail”, “Madonna in jail and why? “, “Because I do need the documents…”. Luckily on the trip from Rome to Rio de Janeiro, there was an auxiliary bishop of Rio de Janeiro, this bishop tells me “Fr Filippo, leave your passport, let’s go to Rio de Janeiro, tomorrow morning you get the X-ray they want, big perhaps even bigger, they will give it back to you and then later they will give you your passport back.” I said “Okay, Excellency, I trust you.” We give him the passport. I go back and we arrive to the centre and my friends who were waiting for me out there, all went all from Rio to São Paulo.
So there was none of the friends I knew, then this bishop, thank goodness he was there, Providence, he takes me to the house of the clergy, where there were seven senior priests. I arrive at six, six and a half, there was supper, a little supper; there is early supper there. A little supper, six elderly priests, clearly there is early supper there, little soup, etcetera, etcetera. At 7 am everything is over, everyone leaves, there is no one. I say “Jesus, but in short, you told me that you have to give me the hundredfold, last night so many guys, tonight nobody, how does this promise of yours work, which is fulfilled today and tomorrow…”. And then, and then, I see the tickets my friends had given me, thank you for what you did for me, and so on. I am touched. I say “Jesus, I offer you this sacrifice, but the friends I had in Italy, you must let me find them in Brazil as well, because if you come into life you create something new, you create” as you live it, a movement, “so I offer you this sacrifice. Do what you have to do.” So what happened, I put myself, even in the sacrifice, delivered to the Lord, from the seven hundred that were there, that evening nobody. Then later, now, I returned, the other year, for the World Youth Day in Brazil and there were not six hundred/seven hundred, but they were forty thousand. So a great thing. The Lord keeps [Applause] keeps because it was the Diocese of Metropolis, he just met … To say in sacrifice, one entrusts, he entrusts in the experience. Well, I said this to indicate of what joy we are talking about, Pope Francis speaks to us when he speaks of joy. It is not a superficial joy. A profound joy. Evangelii Gaudium. The Gospel of joy. It has already been said by His Excellency Mrs. Bertolone, the importance of, in the revelation of the theme of joy. Since the Annunciation of the Angel to the shepherds. “I announce to you a great joy”. In the city of …. and then all the rest and then the experience of the meeting of the Apostles and with the Lord.
But the theme of joy, Pope Francis says, “I wish to address everyone, in a new evangelizing stage, marked by this joy, to indicate the path of the Church in the coming years”. This exhortation indicates the path of the Church in the coming years. In fact, the great risk of today’s world is falling into an individualistic sadness. We stay alone and think about our own business. This produces an individualistic sadness. Even believers run this risk because I quote in number 6 “There are Christians who seem to have a style of Lent, without Easter”; here it is, he says so and then “an evangelizer should not have a funeral face”. How can we evangelize. It is better to be called a pop-rock singer priest than a funeral face, in short, that’s it [Applause]. So I would like to touch on some points of this apostolic exhortation and decline with the verbs that the Italian Episcopal Conference gives us in view of the convention in Florence. First of all, the theme of joy. The theme of joy recurs in the life of the Church. Clear it did not start with Evangelii Gaudium. From the very first announcement to the shepherds, the theme of joy is strong. Pope John XXIII in his opening address of the Second Vatican Council begins in Latin “Gaudet Mater Ecclesia”, the Mother Church rejoices, Mother Church is full of joy. And then after Paul VI writes an exhortation “Gaudete In Domino”, rejoice in the Lord. Joy as the characteristic of the Christian life. John Paul I who in his way of speaking is remembered by the French newspaper “Le Monde” as the Pope who lived the time of a smile, the joy that we find in Pope Wojtyla in Benedict XVI and in Pope Francis. Pope Francis in “Sunday Gaudete” rejoice in Advent of 2013, even before this exhortation deepens the theme. If a Christian becomes sad it means that he has turned away from Jesus. He is a spy. We may have problems, but then we mustn’t leave him alone.
We have to pray for him. Make him feel the warmth of the community. The Gospel is called the Good News, an announcement of joy for all the people. The Gospel, Pope Francis says, offers us a joy, but not just any joy. This joy finds its reason for being, in knowing that one is welcomed and loved by God. You man are welcomed and loved by God. You woman are welcomed and loved by God. And He who comes to save gives help, especially to the lost in heart. Christian joy has its foundation in God’s fidelity, He is faithful, He does not abandon you, He does not leave you. Those who have met Jesus along the path of life experience, Pope Francis says, a serenity and joy in their hearts, of which nothing and no one might deprive them. This is the key verb, experience, they gain experience of, experience of a very great joy. We know this in the life of each of us, particularly after the encounter with the Lord, the encounter with the Lord through the Movement. The encounter with the Lord in our apostolic life. And so many facts even in difficulty, a great joy is experienced. What is the origin of this experience that continues also today. What is the origin of this joy? And here Pope Francis says the origin of this joy is the encounter, the encounter, the encounter with the Lord. His Excellency already said it before and Pope Frances at number 7. I will not tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI that lead us to the centre of the Gospel, at the beginning of being a Christian, there is no ethical decision or a great idea. Rather, the encounter with an event, with a person, which gives life a new horizon, that is, and with it the decisive direction. There lies the source of the evangelizing action. For if someone has grasped this love that gives him back the meaning of life, how can he contain the desire of communicating it to others.
Without doing anything, as happened in the plane there, eh you communicate, bring and offer it to others and the beginning of this joy is precisely the encounter and this encounter puts us in a position of announcement, of exit. As the Pope says in number twenty of the “Evangelii Gaudium” when he speaks of the outgoing Church. In whatever form, in every evangelization, the primacy is always of God. He wanted to call us to collaborate with him and to stimulate us with the strength of his spirit. The real novelty is the one that the Lord mysteriously wants to produce. And here Pope Francis uses a verb, a verb in Spanish, the verb primerear “It comes first. It comes first. That is, He who surprises us comes. This verb is not used in Spain either, it is used in Argentina and not even in noble situations. in situaz … for example when one plays cards and who is in hand and who is … who can win, sometimes even those who try to cheat, in short, it is not …. primerear means someone who comes first , who precedes you, who is ahead of you, who finds the way to meet you and therefore this experience of God’s initiative which surprises us and prevents us. In the beginning there is a grace that we had not even imagined, I had not even imagined going to Brazil and I did it to be a diocesan priest and instead I found myself on the other side of the world and therefore He precedes us, but always in our life. Just seeing what happened in the Church in the last three years; we witnessed that extraordinary event of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, a total surprise, and where was such a thing written, nowhere. And then the lessons of Pope Francis, one surprise after another, up to the meeting that we bishops had with Pope Francis last week, in which there was the official speech, very beautiful, and the assembly, with him, behind closed doors, without journalists, even more beautiful, in the sense that we were able to speak, dialogue, freely with the Holy Father. A surprise, it comes to us, it prevents us, it comes ahead, the experience of the Gift of God.
The Lord breaks our predictions. He breaks our plans. The Pope says this at number twenty-two. And therefore the Lord’s initiative is always ahead of us. And just from this initiative comes the announcement, the witness, the mission. The mission which is a fact that comes from within. It’s natural. Something happened to you and you communicate it. The Pope at number eighteen, seventeen-eighteen, says “Bishops, Latin American bishops have affirmed that we can no longer remain calm, waiting passively within our Churches”. We cannot stay inside our churches. “It is necessary to pass from a pastoral care of simple conservation”, we preserve what exists, “to a decidedly missionary pastoral”. The great theme linked to joy is the theme of mission. We find this content just as it is, the Pope takes it up from the Aperecida conference, Aperecida; I am going to say a few words about Aparecida what it is. Aparecida is the national sanctuary of Brazil. As if it were with us Loreto or Pompei. And there in Aparecida, some poor fishermen in a river, in the Rio Paraiba were fishing. And they didn’t catch anything. At one point they fished and an image came into the net, a small statue. The head on one side and the body on the other. They cleaned it and saw that it was an image of the Our Lady. Aparecida means appeared in the waters. Appeared in the waters. They took the picture and made a prayer. They throw the net again, an extraordinary catch. And he says “Then this is a sign that the mother of God protects us through the image”. They make a small oratory and that oratory becomes a meeting point for the devotion of the people. It is a city, from there a city is born that is located between the city of Rio de Janeiro and the city of São Paulo of Brazil. São Paulo, in the state of São Paulo. Our Lady Aparecida, who appeared, a little protector of Brazil. And then in the Church of Latin America there have been various general assemblies of all the bishops. As if all the bishops of Europe had their meeting.
In Latin America there is a tradition. Before the Council there was already a meeting in Rio de Janeiro, then after there was a very important one in Medellin in Colombia, then after there was one in Puebla in Mexico, then after there was another in which I participated, in Saint Domingo on the centenary of the discovery of Latin America, 1992. And then the fifth meeting of the Latin American bishops was in Aparecida in Brazil. It is now an Archdiocese. A huge sanctuary, as Brazilians do and Brazilians say, ours must be the largest sanctuary in the world. Since they have the football stadium, the football stadium, the biggest in the world, the Maracana to which I went, modestly, to watch matches… Then also the Saint… but they couldn’t make it bigger than St. Peter’s, so they had to keep it a little smaller than what they wanted to enter the limits of St. Peter’s. Here Pope Benedict said “we must do the fifth meeting of Latin American representatives in Aparecida, because it is a place of faith”. It is a place of devotion. It is a place where people go as pilgrims so this place was chosen. That has the Aparecida Madonna, the one gathered in the waters of the river and then a great devotion. In 2007 there was this conference of Aparecida, a whole month, the month of May 2007 representatives of the bishops of all the episcopal conferences were in total 200-250 plus the specialists, the experts. And what was the novelty of this moment? Something like the Second Vatican Council for Latin America. It began with a beautiful liturgical celebration, in Portuguese, in Spanish, also for the Antilles in French and English, then later, in the presence of the Mother of God and we went out of the church and the people were present, especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were twenty thousand, thirty thousand, fifty thousand.
These numbers so big and people saw the bishops and were happy. For a time in Latin America it was said that there is a Popular church and a Hierarchical church as if it were an opposition, but in Aperecida it was a unity between the church that was born from the life of the people and the bishops. So after these meetings with the people, when we went to write the text to reflect for a month, we could not make a document like those written in the confines of universities or in the confines of diocesan offices. Before our eyes we had the faces of poor pilgrims, but full of faith, full of life. This is why the experience was a very strong experience characterized precisely by the encounter with the faith of the people. Therefore the experience of Aparecida returns punctually where we have made an interesting document, a gift of the spirit because there were all the ferments there, there were still the various forms linked to the theology of liberation, that is a change in the social situation, sometimes according to the Marxist ideologies, at other times no, a complex thing altogether. Then there was the challenge of the neo-Pentecostal sects that in Brazil are Protestants of various kinds who are very aggressive, then there was the challenge of secularism. So many of these problems; a very rich document came out which has its accent on the experience of the encounter of the Lord and the Mission. In the Evangelii Gaudium document of Pope Francis there are 164 citations from the Aparecida document and the invitation that the Pope makes is precisely the invitation to a Missionary Church. May our normal pastoral care be not of conservation, but of mission, of proclamation and of witness to everyone. So after having gained this experience, I too was called in 2012 from Brazil to Italy.
I was taken back to Puglia, in Taranto. As soon as I arrived in this city of ours, I found myself with the great problems of the place. I thought that only Latin America had problems. But in Italy there are also larger and more complicated ones. So I arrive there, after 6 months the issue of ILVA breaks out, of the judiciary that intervenes because it polluted the environment and contaminated the territory. Immediately there is a big popular revolt and, then, we make a torchlight procession as the church trying to defend the two great values: the value of work and the value of the environment. And then after a while, of the workers, who see their jobs at risk; they go on strike and place themselves on the blast furnace five that is 60m high up there. So I’m watching the television, the news and the secretary was with me and I say: “But look, these are on strike, let’s go and see them.” My secretary who is already bald, his other hair falls out “How, Excellency, it has been sequestered!”. “But no, what are you doing”. “Let us ask permission from the prefect, the commissioner, the judge, we must be there”. Then I arrive under the blast furnace and I wanted to go up and see them. Then the head of the Digos: “No, Excellency, you can’t go, it’s dangerous, it’s better this way”. And they saw that I had arrived and they came down. Five of them came down: “Thank you, so far no one has come to visit us, thank goodness the Church is close to us”. Then I greeted them: “Look, I have come precisely to bring you the closeness of the Church and the closeness of Jesus, to you and to your families, but do not go on strike putting your life at risk, so that to save one thing, you compromise another”. And they say: “Thank you Excellency, we do it for our families, we will listen to what you told us”. The day after they stopped the strike and were attentive to the indication. So to say, the mission is natural, that is, you cannot see a difficulty, a problem and say “it does not affect me, it does not concern me”.
You feel it, as I also went to our hospital, to the north hospital of Taranto, where there are children with cancer, due to pollution. And even there, it is all a center of attention, the various associations against leukemia, cancer, etc., etc. that asked me to be… . The mission is to share the drama that people have. We and the others. Bringing this experience into reality, into the environment in which we live. And this immediately indicates a profound coincidence with the verbs that the Italian Episcopal Conference proposed to us on the occasion of the Florence Convention. The first exiting it is more going out, going to the blast furnace five, or to schools, or to other factories, in the question of the port. Where we are. Announcing, announcing what happened to us, that the Lord is close to us, that the Lord does not abandon us, that the Lord does not leave us alone and bring him to everyone. And then again, living in the value of Creation because the joy of the Lord also has a reflection in respect for Nature, the custody of Creation, the custody of the world. Nature cannot be squandered, it cannot be violated, economic progress cannot be thought of as it was conceived by us in Taranto, but also in other places, in Calabria, in the South in particular, ignoring the most elementary rules of respect for nature. The defense of man, humanism, involves also the defense of the environment. It was a land full of olive trees, vines, almonds as our lands are and there they made a clean sweep. Now it is clear that everyone, from being farmers, many of them opted having a fixed salary at home, then it seemed that it was the solution to all the problems. But the other problem has arisen, the problem of pollution. Now it is necessary precisely to the work factor, and to the defense of life factor, defense of the environment which is precisely the primary right. And then, the other theme says again, the other two themes proposed for the Florence Convention: educating, an education is necessary.
We are called to educate; even the defense of the environment, starts from how we, for example, a very simple thing, respect the separate waste collection. Let’s try to make a difference. If one throws a paper on the ground, let us educate the boy, the child, the young person to keep clean. But not just for an order, but for a love of beauty, a love of order, as it happened in our homes. Everyone in the street used to clean in front of his house. Therefore, it is necessary to educate the new generations in particular to this respect for dignity, for the person and for nature. And therefore to transfigure, to transform precisely reality in the light of the proclamation of the Gospel. These questions are fully inserted in the development made by the document of the Evagelii Gaudium; then, this missionary perspective involves, says the Pope, a profound reform of the Church. The profound reform of the Church cannot be done, the Holy Father tells us, at the table. In the sense of a planned thing, a thing done in offices. It must be done in contact with life. The reform of the Church is born from the irruption of the Spirit into our life, giving space to the Spirit of God in our person and in our life. We celebrated the feast of Pentecost, letting us be guided by the power of the Spirit. The Spirit transfigures the face of the earth. And the Spirit to change the face of the earth uses the charismas that the Lord arouses. Being in your midst, it is evident that the Spirit is clearly manifested also in the strength of the Apostolic Movement. The Spirit of the Lord is the one who carries out the reform of the Church.
And we who let ourselves be led, we let ourselves be led, people of God, priests, religious men and women, the hierarchy, the Spirit who leads, the Spirit who pervades the earth and transforms it. The last part, I will go back to the last part, and it lingers on, but I will go back to this evangelizer with spirit, it is extraordinary. But before the last part I want to touch on another theme that Pope Francis always emphasizes, in the theme of mission. Starting from the heart of the gospel and concentrating on the essential, that is, taking the central core of the gospel. What is the core? He says it at number 38: “The fundamental nucleus that shines is the beauty of the saving love of God that was manifested in Christ Jesus”, the beauty of saving love, the beauty of a God who seeks us and who loves us. Who comes to meet us through circumstances. He bends over us. This invitation has a powerful and extraordinary attractive force that manifests itself in the life of the Church, in the charismas in particular and then this invitation allows us to have the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel, the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. This is the fundamental invitation. And Pope Francis says a very important thing that takes up a lot of a Latin American experience. At number 49 he says: “I prefer an uncomfortable, wounded and dirty Church from being out on the streets rather than a sick Church from closure and the convenience of clinging to her own securities. I don’t want to be a Church worried about being the center that ends up locked up in a tangle of obsessions. I hope that moves us more the fear of locking ourselves up in structures that give us false protection, than the fear of making a mistake”. So an invitation to take risks, to get out, to live our experience in the impact with reality. Before moving on to the point of evangelizing spirituality in Spirit there is a knot of proclamation and in the magisterium of Pope Francis which is the option for the poor, the option for the poor.
It is another great chapter of the Latin American church developed throughout the magisterium, but developed specifically starting from the experience of more difficult situations. Pope Francis says at number 53: “this economy kills, it is not possible that the fact that one is freezing to death does not make news” you will have heard this “an elderly reduced to living on the street, while the lowering of two points on the stock market makes news. This is exclusion, this is iniquity. Today everything enters the game of competitiveness and the law of the strongest, where the powerful eats the weak. As a consequence of this situation large masses of the population see themselves excluded and marginalized, without work, without prospects and with no way out. We consider the human being in himself as a consumer good, that can be used and then thrown away. We have started the culture of waste. It is not about the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression, but something new, exclusion. With exclusion, belonging to society is affected. The excluded are not exploited, but waste, leftovers”. So faced with this strong language, someone asked the question: “But isn’t this one the theology of liberation?” This is the question. And in the conference of Aparecida, at the beginning I had a more or less similar impression, only that I went, then it was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he was the president of the drafting commission of the final document. He was the head of the commission that made the final document of Aparecida. Then Pope Bergoglio in front of mine, says “Philip, do not have problems, write the part” I was in a group that had to prepare a part “write the part, then in the end we will give a wholeness”.
Just to say, Pope Francis was able to welcome the various ferments that were there, but which are still there in the church and put them in a unitary synthesis; what is the important thing? It is that the starting point is the Gospel, it is the Gospel, it is not an ideology, it is not a social analysis, the starting point is not sociology, the starting point is the heart of Christ that bends over fragility and embraces the poor, the sick, the suffering and the sinner. So there is a number of the Evagelii Gaudium that quotes the conference of Aparecida and says, number 199, quoting Pope Benetto XVI who in Aparecida said: “this option, the option for the poor, is implicit in the Christological faith, in that God who made himself poor for us, came close to us, to enrich us through his poverty, the central meaning of this option lies in emptying himself of God to make himself close to us, and therefore it is linked to the underlying theme which is the announcement of the joy that comes from mercy,” Pope Francis says, at 199 “without the preferential option for the poor the announcement for the Gospel which is also the first Charity, the announcement of the Gospel is the first Charity risks being misunderstood, drowning in a sea of words, to which today’s communication society exposes us every day”. So the option for the poor is born right from the heart of the Gospel and on this I will give you an example of my missionary experience. When I was in Petropolis, as diocesan bishop, in the other diocese, the director of a kindergarten came to see me, who had a kindergarten in a favela, these poor places on the outskirts, on a hill, on a mountain; Petropolis is already at 800 meters, this was one of the highest, coldest places in Brazil, cold there too, very poor and she says to me: “Your Excellency, fr. Filippo, I have this asylum, first of all, I don’t need money and support, these we find them, I need you to love this work, take care of it personally. Come and visit us and take to heart this work of children, of very poor families”.
I go to visit this kindergarten, in a place called Mordus Angius, hill of angels, all favelas have beautiful names: Shamps Elysee, Fields like this, Garden of Hope, Garden of Flowers, etc. … very sad. This was called the hill of angels. I go, I visit the children, they have a beautiful party, the two-year-old children already know how to dance the samba. They did a show, you know the Brazilians do beautiful shows … big party and then I say: “But I would like to meet your mothers too, make your mothers come next week”. Mothers and mothers come, the other Thursday, ladies with a hollow, suffered face, very poor and they begin to tell their sufferings. But I say: “But why don’t you join together, we have looms, why don’t you make T-shirts, blouses, handbags and sell them down in the city. Then, after the meeting, whoever wants, there is a moment of evangelization, of catechesis”. Then, the director with the ladies got together and started a small cooperative and they sold their products in the city centre. After six months I went to visit them again, these mothers, they have made the club of mothers […] very poor… I go there and they say: “Excellency, well, we get, to understand each other, a monthly salary of 40 euros”, 40 euros a month, doing the services, cleaning “after this, our pay, our salary became 50 euros, 10 more, which are important for us, selling these things; so we started to earn something, more, … it is almost 20%, then, this is already a good thing, after that, but Excellence, the best thing is that we discovered that we can change, we have begun to have trust in ourselves, whereas before it was a total abandonment.
We began to have faith in ourselves, in the sense that we can”, because husbands normally when they are there, they go away, they disappear, that is, very difficult things and then” that we are then worth after all, again, the most beautiful thing Excellence is that when we came here we did beyond these works, the encounter with the Lord, with the Word of God, the catechesis, but together with this when you called us you did not ask us if we were married, well, married, if we were…” the majority were single mothers eh, so “you didn’t ask us if we were well married, if we were Catholics, if we were faithful, you simply welcomed us. Excellency, we are grateful to you for this.” This is the option of the poor in the name of Jesus, the pure and simple acceptance of pain, of suffering (applause). So, the Pope says, for this I ask for a Church poor to the poor, for they teach us, this is just an example. But to finish, I start getting to the conclusion, some passage of the last part “evangelizer with spirit”, the fifth chapter, which is of extraordinary beauty. The number 262 says “evangelizer with spirit means evangelizers who pray and work”. Prayer and work. This is the source of the new evangelization. Then it says “without prolonged moments of adoration, without the prayerful encounter with the word of God, of sincere dialogue with the Lord, tasks are easily emptied of meaning”, without the prayerful encounter with the word of God. Therefore, evangelizers who pray and evangelizers who work. 264, “the first motivation for evangelizing is the love of Jesus that we have received the experience of being saved by him, which urges us to always love him as God”. And then a beautiful thing, “how sweet it is to be in front of a crucifix or kneeling before his eyes, how good it does us to let him touch our existence and launches us to communicate the new life.
This being before Jesus, I realized it once we were in Saint Marta and in the evening having the meetings ended, at 7 pm I went to the chapel and in the chapel there was the Holy Father who was there praying before the Blessed Sacrament. And he said clearly, then he also said it in public: when we are in front of the Blessed Sacrament we look, but above all it is He who looks at us. We can also fall asleep because we are tired, but it is He the one who looks at us, it is He who loves us. So this time helps us, we don’t have to do anything, just let ourselves be looked at and offer him our life, maybe tiredness. This is evangelizers, being evangelized by the Spirit of God. Simplicity, prayerful prayer full of availability and it was very important for me to contemplate him with love. His beauty amazes us and fascinates us again. It is necessary for a true humanism to recover a contemplative spirit, letting be looked at by the Lord, letting be touched by him, in the Eucharist, in community life and in daily relationship. And then this experience makes us persevere. The number 267 says another very important thing: “United with Jesus we seek what he seeks” we seek what he seeks “we love what he loves, ultimately what we seek is the glory of the Father”. Another extraordinary thing, we do not seek our glory, we seek the glory of the Father. That original point that fascinated us is what we want to pursue and want to develop. It was said, presenting my curriculum, that my fellow bishops, president of the commission for social problems, work and justice, made me. When I was in the ballot, I said, it can come out or it may not come out, this is not what is going to change my life. What is it that changes my life?
It is entrusting myself to the Lord’s plan. Then one is serene and at peace and goes on calmly. Then it came out, it means that you have to do an extra service, so that, that service is also done, but not attached to power, then also think where we work, in the workplace, or even in families. It is the serenity of saying yes to the Lord, that He will provide for us, for our home, for our family, for our life, he will not leave us alone, he will bring us forward, he will make us go forward. And it happens like this. And the Lord supports us and blesses us. Number 270, there are many beautiful things, one would like to comment on them… “then Jesus wants us to touch the suffering flesh of others”. The relationship with people. It is true, to us bishops, priests, this meeting happens every day, but there we touch Jesus. When for the first time they arrived in Taranto, but for you in Calabria, in Sicily and in other parts, the refugees, I remember, it was on Holy Thursday of last year. He telephones me, it was the eve of Corpus Domini in Taranto, the prefect telephones me: “Father Filippo, in the Saint Giorgio ship, 1300 refugees are arriving who are shun, let’s put together the structures of the state and those of the church to welcome the refugees”. Then the next day I had the Corpus Domini procession and I said: “then dear faithful, Body of Christ is the Eucharist, Body of Christ are the refugees who come, so let’s open our hearts to welcome them with joy, with availability and with love and it is the very same thing the body of Christ that reaches us (applause). On the theme again on the theme of mission and spirituality 273: “the mission to the heart of the people is not a part of my life, or an ornament that I can remove, it is not an appendix or a moment among many of existence, the mission to the heart, the mission is something that I cannot eradicate from my being if I do not want to destroy myself, I am a mission, I am…” this meeting I had in which the Lord reached me through a friend of the Movement, a friend, an experience, touched me, the Lord touched me with his hand, he touched my intelligence, he touched my heart, then I become mission, I become an announcement, it is not an appendix. I am mission, that’s why I am in the world.
It is necessary to recognize oneself as being branded by this mission and to enlighten, bless, vivify, relieve, heal and free. This is the mission that we have. And it happened to me before Pentecost, a visit to a sick woman; then, they write to the bishop, you know, everybody writes to us bishops: “Your Excellency, come to visit me, I am a sick person with ALS and I have gone blind, my friends help me” and she talked with the computer, with the SLA. I go to visit her, between masses on a Sunday and this one very happy, in a situation in which she had everything to curse, very happy; but what a joy, she greets me, I greet her, I try to say a few nice words and she says: “Excellency, first of all I want to kiss your ring”. And I say: “Sure!”. And then she says: “Because you are not just Father Filippo, you are the successor of the apostles, of those who were the close friends of Jesus, of those who saw him risen, so I want to kiss your ring.” And I say, but look at this lady so she has an awareness of my apostolic mission, of the apostolic succession that is greater and more beautiful than the one I have; that is, she awakens it to me, so she kissed the ring and then, she kissed my ring and I gave her a nice kiss of gratitude (applause). I start right with the last thing, when Pope Francis speaks of the Spirit and the Our Lady. Then 280: “to keep the ardour of the Spirit alive we need a strong trust in the Holy Spirit, because he comes to help our weakness. There is no greater freedom than that of letting ourselves be carried by the Spirit.” And the Spirit comes to meet us through these facts; it’s facts, reality brings the Spirit, reality provokes us, even complicated things, even difficult things.
I see it in my life, when the situation is difficult it is not to get depressed or to break down, but it is to question, to ask, when there is a problem when there is a difficulty; then, it is not just to say but it all happens to me; but Jesus you don’t make me miss anything here and there; but it is an occasion to ask. He takes the people out of slavery, it goes into the desert and everyone turns against Moses. Then Moses, does not he curse himself? But he knocks on the rock and asks “Lord, help them”. So the difficulty is not to despair, but it is to ask to ask the power of the Spirit to manifest itself, and to come and happen in our life. This is the circumstance… even this confusion that there is in the upcoming elections, in the elections that we will hold on Sunday, they are also a part of our life. It is not that we are Christians, we have other things on our mind, but no, it is important to do our job well, our vote, with conscience, according to conscience and for the common good. So what are you doing, consult with friends, with those in charge, with priests, because then we cannot complain later. We need to do this seriously too. Reality provokes us, reality speaks to us of the Lord. God speaks through the Eucharist, the Word, the community, but even these we cannot let them pass by and therefore we must… the Spirit speaks to us, provokes us, so together we seek positive judgment, how to live this moment well. Then again together with the power of the Spirit there is a special gift which is the Mother of God. Jesus said to Mary: “Woman, here is your son”. Jesus left us his mother as our mother. After having done this, Jesus could feel that everything was accomplished. Everything is accomplished when he gives us his mother. He gives the protection of his mother to each of us. And in the most difficult moments she is just like our mother, patroness and our guide in the journey. And number 287 says: “we ask the mother of the Gospel to intercede at this stage of
She is the woman of faith who walks in faith “. And then 286:” Mary is the one who knows how to transform a grotto for animals”, where Jesus was born, a grotto for animals” in the house of Jesus with some poor swaddling clothes and a mountain of tenderness”. She transforms what was a grotto of animals into a mountain of tenderness, transforms the most difficult situation into a place of tenderness and now 288:”There is a Marian style in the evangelizing activity of the Church, because every time we look at Mary, once again we believe in the revolutionary power of tenderness and affection.” The Marian style of the Church. Pope Francis insists, Pope Benedict insisted so much, especially St. John Paul II, the feminine genius, the revolutionary force of tenderness and affection. There might be no new humanism without the enhancement of this feminine genius of tenderness and affection” (applause).
She is the praying woman, the worker of Nazareth… Our Lady of Care is also another beautiful thing. Our Lady of Care. The One who leaves her village to help without delay; you don’t have to wait, when someone asks his mother, she ready at hand becomes Our Lady of Care. This dynamic of justice, of tenderness, of contemplation, of a journey towards others is what makes Her an ecclesial model for evangelization, concern, proclamation, take the occasion, not let it pass before your eyes, because I could have stayed comfortable facing the situation of ILVA, but it is not so, one lets himself be provoked. May care help us so that the Church becomes a home for many, a mother for all peoples and makes possible the birth of a new world, a new man and a new humanity. The Risen One who tells us with a power that fills us with immense trust and very firm hope: I make all things new. And therefore with Mary, we can walk confidently towards this promise. Mary is also the promise for each of us of a new humanism that includes the person, nature, heaven, earth, the present and full life. Thanks everyone for your attention. (Applause)