(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with hundreds of Italians from the archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, devastated by a series of powerful earthquakes over the past six months. The central Italian town of Amatrice and surrounding areas were hit by a 6.3 magnitude quake in August which killed nearly 300 people. Other powerful quakes caused major damage in the same region on October 26th and 30th, with the latest tremors reported in Spoleto last Monday, January 2nd. Philippa Hitchen reports: Around 800 people, led by their Bishop Renato Boccardo and local civic authoraties, travelled to Rome for the audience in the Paul VI hall. Many of them had lost their houses, livelihoods and friends or family members in the largest earthquakes which reduced parts of many towns and villages to piles of rubble. Pope Francis sat and listened as a survivor and a local parish priest described the immense suffering of people, now seeking to rebuild their shattered communities. In his off-the-cuff response, the Pope said the worst thing to do in such circumstances was to offer a prepared sermon, but instead he reflected on the work of physical, mental and spiritual reconstruction that has been taking place throughout the region. Pope Francis spoke of the wounds which have affected those who’ve lost their loved ones and the importance of crying together as they seek to heal the pain. He spoke too of the healing hands of doctors, nurses, firemen and all those who worked together to pull survivors from the rubble or offer help to those most in need. Finally the Pope spoke of the spirit of solidarity and nearness of which is vital for the reconstruction process. While everyone affected by the earthquakes will continue to bear scars, he said it’s important to find the courage to dream again. Sharing and remaining close together, he said, makes us more courageous and more human as we face this daunting task. The Pope’s words come three months after he made a surprise visit to Amatrice and two neighbouring towns to meet with survivors and relatives of victims. During the visit, he said he had not come to make speeches, but simply to be close to those suffering and to pray with all those affected by the earthquakes. (from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with participants in a Conference organized by the national Office for Pastoral Care for Vocations of the Italian Episcopal Conference. The theme of the conference is “Arise, go forth, and fear not. Vocations and sanctity: I am on a mission.” During the encounter, Pope Francis spoke off-the-cuff; his extemporaneous remarks will be published when they become available.
In prepared remarks, which were consigned to participants, the Pope said, “The complete and generous ‘yes’ of a life that is given is like a spring of water, hidden for a time deep within the earth, that is waiting to gush forth in a stream of purity and freshness.” Young people, he continued, “have a need to quench their thirst and then continue on their journey of discovery.”
The duty of calling for and accompanying vocations requires “passion and a sense of gratitude”, the Pope said: the passion of personal involvement and care for those who are called; and gratitude “of service in the Church that involves great respect” for those who are called to be “companions on the journey.”
“In order to be credible and to be in harmony with young people,” the Pope continued, it is necessary to be particularly devoted to listening, to be able to “waste time” in order to hear and understand the questions and desires of young people.
Recalling the theme of the conference, Pope Francis said it is important to be convinced that “I am on a mission,” and not simply that “I have a mission.” “To be continually on a mission requires courage, daring, imagination, and a desire to go beyond, to go further,” again recalling the theme, “Arise, go forth, and fear not.”
The Holy Father concluded his written remarks with the plea, “May we feel ourselves pushed by the Holy Spirit to identify new ways in the proclamation of the Gospel of vocation, to be men and women who, as sentinels, know how to welcome the rays of light of a new dawn, in a renewed experience of faith and of passion for the Church and for the Kingdom of God.”
(from Vatican Radio)…