Pope Francis: we only know Christ by touching his wounds
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said on Thursday that we can only know Christ by touching his wounds and stressed that it’s better to have fewer priests rather than accept those who do not have the courage to suffer, endure loneliness and offer love to their flock. He also urged Catholics not to be put off by the reputation of corruption in politcs but become involved in political life in order to promote the common good. At the same time he stressed it was not necessary for Catholics to form their own party. The Pope’s words came during an audience with two Catholic associations, the Community of Christian Life in Italy and the Missionary League for Italian Students.
Pope Francis did not read his prepared remarks in which he had urged those present to do their utmost to spread a culture of justice and peace and reach out to the world’s most poor and needy people. Instead he handed it over to the organizers of the encounter and spoke off-the-cuff answering questions put to him by four of the participants.
He was asked first by a woman who works in a prison ministering to inmates serving life terms how they can transmit hope and how this experience can help to convert their own souls. He told her that we are all sinners and they must be thankful and remind themselves that they are not in that same situation as the prisoner due to the grace of God. The pope also said that when ministering to a prisoner, gestures count for more than words and it’s better to take the prisoner’s hand, caress it and weep with him or her, rather than trying to talk too much.
In the next question, the Pope was asked by a young woman how young people can maintain their sense of hope. In his reply, he acknowledged that often it is difficult to remain hopeful when we witness all the evil things that happen in our world, all the corruption around us. But, he went on, hope is a gift of God who never abandons us and it’s also the virtue of those who are humble.
The third question was put to Pope Francis by a priest who asked him what help a movement like the Community of Christian Life in Italy can offer in the field of Christian formation and the education of the young. He replied saying that touching with our hands the wounds of Christ can serve as a medicine for one of the greatest ills of our times, that of indifference. You can only know Christ, he stressed, by touching his wounds and that is the true way, rather than making the mistake of speaking about God and meeting him, but in this case, a God or rather a “God-Spray” who is spread through the air. Pope Francis also warned the priest that when it comes to selecting candidates for the seminary they should not accept men, whoever intelligent and capable they are, unless they have the experience of touching Christ, embracing him and loving our wounded Lord. Even though we have few priests it is better to look for quality rather than quantity.
The final question came from a man who asked him how they can strength the relationship between faith in Christ and our responsibility to work for a more just and caring society. In his reply, the pope urged Catholics to become involved in politics to work for the common good and not become discouraged from doing so because of its corrupt reputation. At the same time he stressed that it was not necessary for Catholics to form their own political party. Politics, he went on, is like a martyrdom with many pitfalls, but even if you end up dirtying your hands, you must ask for forgiveness and continue along that path. This is especially important because nowadays our globalized world puts money, the god money at the centre of politics and anybody who is not useful is cast aside, especially the elderly and the young.
During the audience, Pope Francis was presented with an unusual gift, a drone bearing the Vatican colours and the papal emblem, which came from students at a Jesuit school in Rome.