Pope Francis’ homily at Verano cemetery
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked the Feast of All Saints with Mass at Rome’s monumental Verano cemetery during which he hailed the world’s refugees and homeless as unknown saints and slammed the pervading ‘industry of destruction’ that excludes God and destroys the earth.
Below please find the Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s unscripted homily:
When in the First Reading we heard this voice of the Angel who cried out loud o the Four Angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees” (Rev 7:3), this brought to mind a phrase that is not here but in everyone’s heart: men are capable of doing this better than you. We are capable of devastating the Earth far better than the Angels. And this is exactly what we are doing, this is what we do: we destroy creation, we devastate lives, we devastate cultures, we devastate values, we ravage hope. How greatly we need the Lord’s strength to seal us with His love and His power to stop this mad race of destruction!
Destroying what He has given us, the most beautiful things that He has done for us, for us to carry forward, to nurture, to bear fruit … When I looked at the pictures in the sacristy of 71 years ago [depicting the WWII bombing of the area of San Lorenzo where the cemetery is situated], I thought, ‘This is so grave, so painful. This is nothing in comparison to what is happening today. Man takes possession of everything, believes he is god, believes he is the king. And wars, the wars that continue raging, not exactly helping to sow the seed of life but to destroy. It is an industry of destruction. It is also a system of life, that when things can’t be fixed they are discarded: we discard children, we discard the old, the young are discarded without a job … This devastation that is the result of the culture of waste. We discard people. This is the image that came to my mind as I listened to the First Reading”.
The second image, in the same Reading: “This great multitude which no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language (7:9) … The nations, the people … It’s starting to get cold: these poor people, who have to flee for their lives, their homes, their people, their villages, in the desert … and they live in tents, they feel the cold, without medicine, hungry … because the “god-man” has taken control of Creation, of all that good that God has done for us. But who pays for this party? They do! The young, the poor, those who are discarded. And this is not ancient history: it is happening today. ‘But Father, it is far away …’ – It’s here too! Everywhere. It is happening today. I will say more: it seems that these people, these children who are hungry, sick, do not seem to count, it’s as if they were of a different species, as if they were not even human. And this multitude is before God and begs, ‘Please, salvation! Please, peace! Please bread! Please work! Please, children and grandparents! Please, young people with the dignity of being able to work! ‘”.
Among these are also those who are persecuted for their faith, those “robed in white” in the passage from Revelation: “‘They are the ones who come from great distress, and their robes are made white by the blood of the Lamb.'” “And today, without exaggeration, today on the Feast of All Saints I would like us to think of all these, the unknown saints. Sinners like us, worse off than us, destroyed. Of this multitude of people who are in great distress: most of the world is in distress. And the Lord sanctifies this people, sinners like us, but He sanctifies these people in distress”.
Finally, there is a third image, “God. The first, the devastation; the second, the victims; the third, God. God:’ Beloved, we are God’s children now,’ we heard in the second reading. what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’, that is: hope. And this is the blessing of the Lord that we still have: hope. Hope He will have pity on His people, mercy on those who are in the great distress and compassion for the destroyers that they will convert. And so, the holiness of the Church goes on: with these people, with us, that we will see God as He is. And what should our attitude be if we want to be part of this multitude walking to the Father, in this world of devastation, in this world of war, in this world of distress? Our attitude, as we heard in the Gospel, is the attitude of the Beatitudes. That path alone will lead us to the encounter with God. That path alone will save us from destruction, from destroying the Earth, creation, morality, history, family, everything. That path alone. But it too will bring us through bad things. It will bring us trouble. Persecution. But that path alone will take us forward. And so, these people who are suffering so much today because of the selfishness of destroyers, destroyers of our brothers and sisters, these people struggle onwards with the Beatitudes, hoping to find God, to find themselves face to face with the Lord in the hope of becoming saints, at the moment of our final encounter with Him. “
“May the Lord help us and give us the grace of this hope, but also the grace of courage to emerge from all this destruction, devastation, relativism of life, the exclusion of others, exclusion of values, exclusion of all that the Lord has given us: the exclusion of peace. Deliver us from this, and give us the grace to walk in the hope of finding ourselves one day face to-face with Him. And this hope, brothers and sisters, does not disappoint”.