Pope Francis says "The encounter with Christ, letting oneself be grasped and guided by his love broadens the horizon of existence, gives her a solid hope..." FULL TEXT for Friendship Meeting



[RIMINI, 20-25 AUGUST 2021]

From the Vatican, 29 July 2021


To His Excellency Most Reverend
Bishop of Rimini

 Most Reverend Excellency,

the Holy Father rejoices that the  Meeting for Friendship between Peoples is  returning to take place "in the presence" and addresses his greetings to you, to the organizers and to all the participants with the wish for a fruitful development.

The title chosen - "The courage to say I" -, taken from the  Diary  of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, is very significant when it comes to starting on the right foot, so as not to waste the opportunity given by the pandemic crisis . "Restart" is the watchword. But it does not come about automatically, because freedom is involved in every human initiative. Benedict XVI recalled this  : «Freedom presupposes that every man in fundamental decisions […] is a new beginning. […] Freedom must always be conquered again for good "(Enc.  Spe Salvi , 24). In this sense, the courage to take risks is above all an act of freedom.

During the first  lockdown ,  Pope Francis  reminded everyone to exercise this freedom: "Worse than this crisis there is only the drama of wasting it" ( Homily of Pentecost , May 31, 2020).

While it has imposed physical distancing, the pandemic has put the person, the ego of each one back at the center, causing in many cases a reawakening of the fundamental questions about the meaning of existence and the usefulness of living that had been dormant for too long or worse. censored. It also aroused a sense of personal responsibility. Many have testified to this in different situations. Faced with sickness and pain, faced with the emergence of a need, many people did not hold back and said: «Here I am».

Society has a vital need for people who are responsible presences. Without a person there is no society, but a casual aggregation of beings who do not know why they are together. The only glue would remain only the selfishness of calculation and of the particular interest that makes everyone indifferent to everything and everyone. After all, the idolatries of power and money prefer to deal with individuals rather than with people, that is, with an "I" focused on one's own subjective needs and rights rather than an "I" open to others, striving to form the "We" of fraternity and social friendship.

The Holy Father never tires of warning those with public responsibilities against the temptation to use the person and discard him when he is no longer needed, instead of serving him. After what we have experienced in this time, perhaps it is more evident to everyone that the person is the point from which everything can start again. Certainly there is a need to find resources and means to restart society, but first of all there is a need for someone who has the courage to say "I" with responsibility and not with selfishness, communicating with his own life that is he can start the day with trustworthy hope.

But courage is not always a spontaneous gift and no one can give it to himself (as Don Abbondio Manzoni used to say), especially in an era like ours, in which fear - revealing a profound existential insecurity - plays such a decisive role. to block so many energies and impulses towards the future, perceived more and more as uncertain especially by young people.

In this sense, the Servant of God Luigi Giussani warned of a double danger: «The first danger […] is doubt. Kierkegaard notes: “Aristotle says that philosophy begins with wonder, and not as in our times with doubt”. Systematic doubt is, as it were, the symbol of our time. […] The second objection to the decision of the ego is meanness. […] Doubt and comfort, these are our two enemies, the enemies of the self "( In viaggio 1992˗1998 , Milan 2014, 48˗49).

Where, then, can the courage to say I come from? It takes place thanks to that phenomenon called  encounter : «Only in the phenomenon of encounter is the ego given the possibility to decide, to make itself capable of welcoming, of recognizing and of welcoming. The courage to say "I" is born in the face of truth, and truth is a presence "( ibid. , 49). From the day he became flesh and came to dwell among us, God has given man the opportunity to get out of fear and find the energy of good by following his Son, who died and is risen. The words of St. Thomas Aquinas are illuminating when he affirms that "man's life consists in the affection that mainly sustains him and in which he finds the greatest satisfaction" ( Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 179, a. 1 co.).

The filial relationship with the Eternal Father, who makes himself present in people reached and changed by Christ, gives consistency to the self, freeing it from fear and opening it to the world with a positive attitude. It generates a will to good: «Every authentic experience of truth and beauty seeks its own expansion, and every person who experiences a profound liberation acquires greater sensitivity to the needs of others. By communicating it, good takes root and develops "(Francis, Apostolic  Exhortation Evangelii gaudium , 9).

It is this experience that instills the courage of hope: “The encounter with Christ, letting oneself be grasped and guided by his love broadens the horizon of existence, gives her a solid hope that does not disappoint. Faith is not a refuge for people without courage, but the expansion of life. It reveals a great call, the vocation to love, and ensures that this love is reliable, that it is worthwhile to surrender to it, because its foundation is found in God's fidelity, stronger than any of our frailties "( Id., Enc.  Lumen fidei , 53).

Let us think of the figure of St. Peter: the Acts of the Apostles refer to these words of his, after he was severely forbidden to continue speaking in the name of Jesus: “Whether it is right before God to obey you instead of God, you judge him; we cannot be silent about what we have seen and heard "(4: 19-20). Where does "this coward who has denied the Lord draw his courage?" What happened in this man's heart? The gift of the Holy Spirit "(Francis,  Homily in the Mass at Casa S. Marta , April 18, 2020).

The profound reason for the Christian's courage is Christ. The Risen Lord is our security, who makes us experience a profound peace even in the midst of the storms of life. The Holy Father hopes that during the week of the  Meeting the  organizers and guests will give a living testimony, making their own the task indicated in the programmatic document of his pontificate: "Many [...] seek God secretly, moved by the nostalgia of his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. […] Christians have the duty to announce it without excluding anyone, not as someone who imposes a new obligation, but as someone who shares a joy, signals a beautiful horizon, offers a desirable banquet "(Apostolic  Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium , 14).

The joy of the Gospel instills the audacity to take new paths: "We must have the courage to find new signs, new symbols, a new flesh, […] particularly attractive to others" ( ibid . , 167). It is the contribution that the Holy Father expects the  Meeting to  give to the restart, in the awareness that "the security of faith sets us on the path, and makes witness and dialogue with everyone possible" (Enc.  Lumen fidei , 34), none excluded, because the horizon of faith in Christ is the whole world.

In entrusting this message to you, dear Excellency,  Pope Francis  asks for remembrance in prayer and from the heart he blesses you and blesses the leaders, the volunteers and the participants in the 2021 Meeting.

I also express my best wishes for the success of the event and I take advantage of the occasion to confirm myself with a sense of distinguished respect

Your Excellency Most Reverend
 Pietro Card. Parolin
Secretary of State

FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va