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Pope's pilgrimage to home town of his namesake, Francis of Assisi

October 04, 2013 - Pope Francis on Friday offered Christians the model of the man of peace, Italy’s patron saint, Francis of Assisi, appealing for peace among people and with the created world, and particularly urging for an end to strife in Syria, the Middle East and in the world. The Pope’s appeal came in his homily at Mass on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, during a day-long visit to the native hill town of the saint whose simplicity, humility and poverty made the Argentine Pope adopted his name on his election on March 19. In his homily in front of the Basilica of St. Francis, Pope Francis focussed on the saint’s conformation to Christ, his love for peace and for God’s creation. Expressing admiration for the saint who gave up an easy and carefree life, the Pope said his love for the poor and the imitation of Christ in his poverty were inseparably united, like the two sides of a coin. The Pope thus urged the faithful to allow themselves be transformed by Christ’s loving gaze from the cross, like St. Francis. “Franciscan peace is not something like saccharine” or “a kind of pantheistic harmony with forces of the cosmos,” the Pope said, adding, true peace is found by those who “take up” their “yoke” of Christ’s commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. “This yoke, “the Pope said, “cannot be borne with arrogance, presumption or pride, but only with meekness and humbleness of heart.” Pope Francis observed that in his love for all creation and for its harmony, St. Francis bears witness to the need to respect all that God has created, which entails respect and love for every human being. “Let us respect creation, let us not be instruments of destruction! Let us respect each human being,” the Pope exhorted at the end of his homily. “May there be an end to armed conflicts which cover the earth with blood; may the clash of arms be silenced; and everywhere may hatred yield to love, injury to pardon, and discord to unity. Let us listen to the cry of all those who are weeping, who are suffering and who are dying because of violence, terrorism or war, in the Holy Land, so dear to Saint Francis, in Syria, throughout the Middle East and everywhere in the world,” he added.
The Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis was the highlight of the daylong trip to Assisi, where he visited the most significant "places" linked with the life of St. Francis, meeting disabled and sick children and young people, lunching with the poor and addressing the clergy and religious among others. In a touching visit to the Seraphic Institute, the Pope kissed some 60 sick and disabled children and young people being care for there, and said “Jesus is present among you, and the Flesh of Jesus are the wounds of Jesus in these people. These wounds need to be heard , to be recognized.” Saying that the most disadvantaged people are the "first victims of the " culture of waste "by which our society "is polluted" the Pope urged for the promotion of the" culture of ' acceptance " animated by a deep Christian love
Meeting with the poor assisted by Caritas at the Archbishop's House, Pope Francis insisted that the faithful "strip" themselves of their worldly attachment to wealth, which he said was killing the church and its souls. Speaking in the simple room where St. Francis stripped off his clothes, renounced his wealth and vowed to live a life of poverty, the Pope said the Church should strip itself of “every worldliness”, of the “fear to open the door and go out to meet all,” of “an apparent tranquility that harms structures.” The 76-year old Pontiff said all members of the Church should avoid attaching importance to worldly things and become more humble. “Worldliness brings us to vanity, arrogance, pride and these are idols... All of us have to strip ourselves of this worldliness," he said.
Visibly moved on hearing the stories of some of the poor at the Caritas centre, Pope Francis said, “Many of you have been stripped by this savage world that does not give employment, that does not help, that does not care if there are children in the world who are dying of hunger, does not care if so many families have nothing to eat." He decried a world "that does not care about many people who have to flee poverty and hunger, seeking freedom and many times they find death, as happened yesterday in Lampedusa". He was referring to the sinking of a migrant boat off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Oct. 3 in which more than 300 people are believed to have died. "Today is a day for weeping," Pope Francis said of the boat tragedy. (Source: Vatican)


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