27 January 2018 | Address of His Holiness


Paul VI Audience Hall

[…] Your activity, then, is even more deserving of the gratitude of every citizen
because it takes place in the most diverse situations, coping with fatigue and dangers
of various kinds. This is the case of assistance given to the victims of earthquakes
and other natural disasters, which alleviates the evidence of the affected populations,
representing a sign of the closeness of the whole Italian people. Of equal value are
your efforts in the rescue of migrants during their arduous journey on the sea, and
in receiving those who disembark and hope to be welcomed and integrated. The hand
that you extend to them and which they grasp is an important sign, which should be
translated as: “Not only do I help you in this moment, lifting you from the sea and
bringing you to safety, but I assure you that I will be there and I will take your destiny
to heart”. For this reason, your presence alongside immigrants is a prophetic sign,
so necessary for our world. I said the word “prophetic sign”: the prophet, to say it in
a language we all understand – the prophet is one who gives a “slap”; with his way
of living, with the service he gives, and in words… a slap, a wake-up call, he gives a
real slap to social selfishness, the selfishness of societies. And he reawakens the best
that is in the heart! But give a slap with your word and your witness, not with the
hand! […]