Pope Francis upholds legacy of two ‘inconvenient’ priests
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday travelled to two small towns in northern Italy to pay homage to two Italian parish priests of the past century who championed the poor and challenged powerful prelates to step outside their comfort zones.
Arriving by helicopter in Lombardy town of Bozzolo to pray at the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari, Pope Francis was greeted by Cremona Bishop Antonio Napolioni who announced the process to beatify Mazzolari will start on September 18th.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Don Mazzolari, who died in 1959, was the parish priest of Bozzolo. He was also a scholar who wrote about St. Francis and Blessed John Henry Newman, an anti-fascist activist who opposed the Mussolini regime and an ardent champion of the poor. Sanctioned for a time by diocesan authorities, Mazzolari was a friend of Pope John XXIII and praised by the future Pope Paul VI.
Pope Francis’ lengthy tribute to Mazzolari – whom he described as Italy’s parish priest – was above all a call to priests not to demand perfection from the faithful, but to encourage them to do their best and an exhortation to them to take the Gospel message into the peripheries in poverty and with simplicity, turning away from the temptations of clericalism and careerism.
Francis then flew to Barbiana, near Florence, to pray at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani, a man he has described as “a believer, enamored of the Church” a “passionate educator” who used “original ways.”
Milani, who died in 1967, is universally acknowledged for having been an optimum interpreter of modern and contemporary pedagogy, a priest attentive to formative methods for young people, and especially alert to the needs of the poor and the rights of workers.
Milani, the Pope said, taught the importance of giving the poor the capacity to speak up for themselves, because “without the word, there’s no dignity and therefore no justice or freedom”.
A pilgrimage the Pope himself said was undertaken in the footsteps of two parish priests whose legacy he described as “scomodo” which means challenging or inconvenient, but that has left a radiant trace in their service to the Lord and to the people of God.