Pope Francis at Angelus declares a "special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on February 23" - FULL TEXT + Video


St. Peter's Square
Sunday, February 4, 2018


Dear brothers and sisters, Good Morning!

This Sunday's Gospel continues the description of a day of Jesus in Capernaum, a Saturday, a weekly festival for the Jews (cf. Mk 1: 21-39). This time the evangelist Mark highlights the relationship between Jesus' healing activity and the awakening of faith in the people he meets. In fact, with the signs of healing that it accomplishes for the sick of all kinds, the Lord wants to arouse faith as a response.

The day of Jesus in Capernaum begins with the healing of Peter's mother-in-law and ends with the scene of the people of the whole town who are crowded in front of the house where he was staying, to bring him all the sick. The crowd, marked by physical suffering and spiritual miseries, constitutes, so to speak, "the vital environment" in which Jesus' mission is accomplished, made up of words and gestures that heal and console. Jesus did not come to bring salvation to a laboratory; he does not do the laboratory preaching, detached from the people: he is in the middle of the crowd! In the midst of the people! You think that most of Jesus' public life has passed on the road, among the people, to preach the Gospel, to heal physical and spiritual wounds. It is a humanity plagued by suffering, this crowd, of which the Gospel speaks many times. It is a humanity plagued by sufferings, labors and problems: this powerful humanity is directed by the powerful, liberating and renewing action of Jesus. Thus, in the midst of the crowd until late evening, the Sabbath ends. And what does he do next, Jesus?

Before dawn on the following day, He goes out unseen from the city gate and retires to a secluded place to pray. Jesus prays. In this way he also subtracts his person and his mission to a triumphalistic vision, which misunderstands the meaning of miracles and its charismatic power. In fact, miracles are "signs" that invite the response of faith; signs that are always accompanied by words, which illuminate them; and together, signs and words, provoke faith and conversion by the divine power of the grace of Christ.

The conclusion of today's passage (verses 35-39) indicates that Jesus's proclamation of the Kingdom of God finds its proper place in the street. To the disciples who are looking for him to bring him back to the city - the disciples went to visit him where he prayed and wanted to bring him back to the city - what does Jesus answer? "Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring villages, so that I may preach there also" (v. 38). This was the path of the Son of God and this will be the path of his disciples. And it must be the path of every Christian. The road, as a place of the glad proclamation of the Gospel, places the mission of the Church under the sign of "going", of the journey, under the sign of "movement" and never of the stillness.

May the Virgin Mary help us to be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who urges the Church to place ever more her tent among the people to bring to everyone the healing word of Jesus, the doctor of souls and bodies.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday, in Vigevano, the young Teresio Olivelli was proclaimed Blessed, killed for his Christian faith in 1945, in the concentration camp of Hersbruck. He gave witness to Christ in his love for the weakest and joins the long line of martyrs of the last century. His heroic sacrifice is a seed of hope and fraternity especially for the young.

Today is celebrated in Italy the Day for Life, which has as its theme "The gospel of life, joy for the world". I associate myself with the message of the Bishops and express my appreciation and encouragement to the different ecclesial realities that in many ways promote and sustain life, especially the Movement for Life, which I greet the exponents present here, not so numerous. And this worries me; there are not many people struggling for life in a world where every day more weapons are built, every day more laws are made against life, every day this culture of waste goes ahead, to discard what is not needed, what is bothering . Please pray for our people to be more aware of the defense of life in this moment of destruction and of humanity.

I wish to assure my closeness to the populations of Madagascar, recently hit by a strong cyclone, which has caused victims, displaced people and extensive damage. May the Lord comfort and support them.

And now an announcement. Faced with the tragic protracted situation in different parts of the world, I invite all the faithful to a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on February 23, the Friday of the First Week of Lent. We will offer it especially for the populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. As on other similar occasions, I also invite non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to associate with this initiative in ways that they deem most appropriate, but all together. Our heavenly Father always listens to his children who cry out to him in pain and anguish, "heal the broken hearts and band their wounds" (Psalm 147.3) ). I address a heartfelt appeal because we too hear this cry and, each in his own conscience, before God, we ask ourselves: "What can I do for peace?". We can certainly pray; but not only: everyone can concretely say "no" to violence as much as it depends on him or her. Because the victories obtained through violence are false victories; while working for peace is good for everyone! I greet all of you, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims from Italy and various countries. I greet the group of the diocese of Cádiz and Ceuta (Spain), the students of the "Charles Péguy" College of Paris, the faithful of Sestri Levante, Empoli, Milan and Palermo, and the representation of the City of Agrigento, to whom I express my appreciation for the commitment to welcome and integrate migrants. Thank you! Thank you for what you do. A cordial greeting to the volunteers and collaborators of the "Fraterna Domus" association, which has been working in Rome for 50 years for welcoming and solidarity. A good Sunday to everyone. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!