Video message of the Holy Father Francis to the participants in the Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church in Verona (Italy), 22.11.2018
Below we publish the text of the Video Message that the Holy Father Francis sent, on the occasion of the opening of the works, to the participants in the eighth edition of the Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, underway in Verona from 22 to 25 November 2018, on the topic "The risk of freedom":
Video message of the Holy Father
A warm greeting to all of you who attend the eighth edition of the Festival of the Church's Social Doctrine. The organizers have chosen as their theme "The risk of freedom", to invite reflection on what has always supported the path of men, women, society and civilizations. But often, the desire for freedom - which is God's great gift to his creature - has taken on deviant forms, generating wars, injustices and violations of human rights.
As Christians, faithful to the Gospel and aware of the responsibility we have for all our brothers, we are called to be attentive and vigilant because "the risk of freedom" does not lose its highest and most demanding meaning. To risk, in fact, means to get involved. And this is our first call. Together we must work to eliminate what deprives men and women of the treasure of freedom. And, at the same time, rediscover the taste of that freedom that knows how to preserve the common home that God has given us.
There are many situations in which, even today, men and women can not put their freedom to good use, they can not risk it. I underline three: poverty, the domination of technology, the reduction of man to consumer.
First of all, the indigence, caused by great injustices, which continue to be perpetrated throughout the world, even in our cities. "It is no longer simply a question of the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression, but of something new: with the exclusion, belonging to the society in which we live is struck, in its very root, since it is not it's in the slums, in the suburbs, or without power, but it's out. The excluded are not "exploited" - no, they are not exploited - but they are waste, "leftovers" »(Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 53). It is the culture of waste! If a man or a woman is reduced to "surplus", not only do they experience the evil fruits of others' freedom on them, but they are defrauded of the possibility of "risking" their freedom for themselves, for their family, for a good, just and dignified life.
Then there is another situation that negatively affects the experience of freedom and is technological development, when it is not accompanied by an adequate development of responsibility, values and conscience. Thus the sense of limitation is lost, with the consequence of not seeing the epochal challenges we have before us. The absolutization of technique can backfire on man. As St. Paul VI recalled, in his speech for the 25th anniversary of FAO: "The most extraordinary scientific progress, the most amazing technical feats, the most prodigious economic growth, if they are not joined to genuine social and moral progress, are addressed, ultimately, against man "(November 16, 1970).
The third negative situation is represented by the reduction of man to a mere consumer. Here freedom to "risk" remains only an illusion. In fact, "this paradigm makes everyone believe that they are free as long as they retain a supposed freedom to consume, when in reality those who possess freedom are those who belong to the minority that holds economic and financial power" (Enc. Laudato si ', 203). This is not freedom, it is slavery: daily experience is marked by resignation, distrust, fear, closure.
Despite these deviations, the desire to "risk" one's freedom never fails. Even in those who have lived and experience situations of slavery and exploitation. During the Festival you will be able to listen to testimonies of newfound freedom: for example, from prostitution, from the grip of wear, and so on. These are stories that attest to an ongoing liberation, which gives strength and hope. These are stories that make people say: yes, the risk of freedom is possible!
Although some are afraid of going against the current, many, in their daily lives, live lifestyles, supportive, open, welcoming lifestyles. They are the real answer to the various slavery because they move like free people. They ignite dormant desires, open horizons, make good desire desirable. The lived freedom is never limited to managing what happens because it always contains something that carries beyond. Freedom never kills dreams, but builds in life what many desire but do not have the courage to pursue. Certainly being free is a challenge, a permanent challenge: it fascinates, it wins, it gives courage, it makes us dream, it creates hope, it invests on the good, it believes in the future. It therefore contains a force that is stronger than any slavery. The world needs free people!
"The human person, the more he grows, matures and sanctifies himself the more he enters into relationship, when he comes out of himself to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. Thus it assumes in its existence that Trinitarian dynamism that God has impressed on her since her creation. Everything is connected, and this invites us to mature a spirituality of global solidarity that flows from the mystery of the Trinity "(ibid., 240).
This is why human freedom discovers itself to the end, when it understands that it is generated and sustained by the loving freedom of the Father, revealed in the Son in the face of Mercy. Under his compassionate gaze, every man can always resume the path of the "risk of freedom".
Dear friends, I wish you to be free people and not to be afraid of spending and getting your hands dirty to do good and help those in need.
I renew my cordial greeting to all the participants and, in particular, to the many volunteers who every year offer their availability. A greeting to the Bishop of Verona, Msgr. Giuseppe Zenti, who hosts the event, and a thank you to Don Vincenzi for the service carried out for the dissemination, knowledge and experimentation of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
I assure you of my closeness, and my prayer. From my heart, I give you my blessing. And please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!
[01887-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]