11 March 2018 | Address of His Holiness


Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere

he world today is often inhabited by fear — also by anger which is the sister of fear,
as Professor Riccardi said. It is an ancient disease: in the Bible the invitation not to
be afraid is often repeated. Our age is marked by great fear in the face of the vast
scale of globalization. And fears often focus on those who are foreigners, different
from us, poor, as if they were an enemy. Nations’ development plans are also driven
by opposition to these people. And thus we defend ourselves from these people,
believing we are preserving what we have or what we are. The atmosphere of fear
can also infect Christians who, like that servant in the parable, hide the gift they have
received: they do not invest it in the future; they do not share it with others, but
they keep it for themselves: “I belong to such association… ; I am from that
community…”; they “camouflage” their life this way and do not allow the talent to
If we are alone, we are easily seized by fear. But your journey leads you to look
toward the future together: not alone, not by yourself. Together with the Church.
You have benefited from the great impulse to share community life and to be the
People of God that came from the Second Vatican Council, which states: “God,
however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond
or link between one another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one
people” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 9). Your Community, born in the
late 1960s, is the daughter of the Council, its message and its spirit.
The future of the world seems uncertain, as we hear every day in the news. See how
many wars are being waged! I know that you pray and work for peace. Let us think
about the suffering of the Syrian people, the beloved and tortured Syrian people,
whose refugees you have welcomed to Europe through “€˜humanitarian corridors”.
How is it possible that, after the tragedies of the 20th century, we can still fall back
into the same absurd logic? But the Word of the Lord is light in the darkness and
offers hope for peace; it helps us not to be afraid even before the force of evil.
You have written the words of the Psalm: “Thy word is lamp to my feet and a light to
my path” (119[118]:105). We have welcomed the Word of God among us with a
spirit of celebration. In this spirit you have welcomed what I wished to propose to
each community at the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy: that one Sunday each year
be dedicated to the Word of God (cf. Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera, 7). In
the past, the Word of God has protected you from the temptations of ideology, and
today it frees you from the intimidation of fear. That is why I urge you to love and
turn evermore to the Bible. Everyone will find in it the source of mercy toward the
poor, those wounded by life and by war.
The Word of God is the lamp with which to look to the future, also that of this
Community. In its light, one can read the signs of the times. Blessed Paul VI said:
“The discovery of ‘the signs of the times’ … comes from a comparison of faith with
life”, so that “the world for us becomes a book” (General Audience, 16 April 1969:
ore, 24 April 1969, p. 12). A book to read with the gaze and heart of God. This is the
spirituality that sprung from the Council, which teaches great and attentive
compassion for the world.
Since your Community was born, the world has become “global”: the economy and
communications are, so to speak, “unified”. But for many people, especially the poor,
new walls have been built. Diversity is an opportunity for hostility and conflict; a
globalization of solidarity and of the Spirit is yet to be built. The future of the global
world is to live together: this ideal requires a commitment to build bridges, maintain
open dialogue, and to continue to encounter one another.
It is not just a political or organizational fact. Each one is called to change his or her
heart by turning a merciful gaze upon the other, to become an artisan of peace and
a prophet of mercy. The Samaritan in the parable took care of the dying man on the
road because he “saw and had compassion” (Lk 10:33). The Samaritan had no
specific responsibility towards the wounded man, and was a foreigner. Instead he
behaved like a brother, because he had a merciful gaze. A Christian, by vocation, is
the brother and sister of every person, especially if he or she is poor, even if an
enemy. Never say, “What do I have to do with him or her”? Just a nice way of washing
one’s hands! “What have I to do with him”? A merciful gaze commits us to the creative
boldness of love; there is so much need of it! We are everyone’s brothers and sisters
and, for this reason, prophets of a new world; and the Church is a sign of unity of
the human race, among people, families, cultures.
I would like this anniversary to be a Christian anniversary: not a time to measure
results or difficulties; not the hour for accounting, but the time when faith is called
to become newly bold for the Gospel. Boldness is not one day’s courage, but the
patience of a daily mission in the city and in the world. The mission is to patiently
mend the human fabric of the peripheries, which violence and impoverishment have
torn apart; to communicate the Gospel through personal friendship; to show how a
life becomes truly human when it is lived alongside the poorest; to create a society
in which no one is a stranger any longer. The mission is to cross borders and walls to
Today, may you continue ever more boldly along this path. Continue to be close to
the children of the peripheries with the Schools of Peace which I visited; continue to
accompany the elderly: sometimes they are discarded, but to you they are friends.
Continue to open humanitarian corridors for refugees from war and hunger. The poor
are your treasure!
The Apostle Paul writes: “let no one boast of men, for all things are yours … and you
are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor 3:21, 23). You are Christ’s! This is the
profound meaning of your history to date, but it is above all the key to facing the
future. Always be Christ’s in prayer, in caring for the least of his brothers and sisters,
searching for peace, because he is our peace. he will walk with you, protect you and
guide you! I pray for you, and you pray for me. Thank you.