ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS FATHER FRANCIS
AL PONTIFICIO COLEGIO PÍO LATINOAMERICANO
Thursday, November 15, 2018
I am happy to meet you and join in the thanksgiving for the 160 years of life of the Pontifical Pío Latinoamericano College. Thanks to the rector, Fr. Gilberto Freire, S.J., for his words on behalf of the entire priestly community and the lay collaborators that make possible, with their daily work, the home life.
Perhaps the most notable characteristic of your College is its Latin American being. It is one of the few Roman Colleges that his identity does not refer to a Nation or a charism, but seeks to be the meeting place, in Rome, of our Latin American land - the Great Homeland as our heroes liked to dream. And so the College was dreamed of and so it is loved by its bishops who give priority to this house, offering you, young priests, the opportunity to create a vision, a reflection and an experience of communion expressly "Latin Americanized".
One of the phenomena that currently hits the continent is the cultural fragmentation, the polarization of the social fabric and the loss of roots. This is exacerbated when discourses are fomented that divide and propagate different types of confrontations and hatred towards those who "are not of ours", even importing cultural models that have little or nothing to do with our history and identity and that, far from mestizing in new syntheses as in the past, end up uprooting our cultures from their richest and most autochthonous traditions. New generations uprooted and fragmented! The Church is not alien to the situation and is exposed to this temptation; subject to the same environment runs the risk of becoming disoriented by falling prey to one or another polarization or uprooted if you forget your vocation to be a meeting ground . The invasion of ideological colonization is also suffered in the Church.
Hence the importance of this time in Rome and especially in the College: to create bonds and alliances of friendship and fraternity. And this not because of a declaration of principles or gestures of goodwill, but because during these years they can learn to know better and make their own the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anguish of their brothers; they can name and face specific situations that our people live and face and feel their neighbor's problems as their own.
The "Pius" can help a lot to create an open and creative, happy and hopeful priestly community, if he knows how to help and help himself, if he is able to take root in the lives of others, brothers and sisters of a common history and heritage, part of a same presbytery and Latin American people. A priestly community that discovers that the greatest strength it has to build history is born of the concrete solidarity among you today, and will continue tomorrow between your churches and peoples to be able to transcend the merely "parochial" and lead communities that know how to open up to others to weave and heal hope (see Exhort, Evangelii Gaudium, 228).
Our continent, marked by old and new wounds, needs artisans of relationship and communion, open and trusting in the novelty that the Kingdom of God can arouse today. And that you can start to develop it from now on. A priest in his parish, in his diocese, can do a lot - and that's fine - but he also runs the risk of burning himself, isolating himself or harvesting for himself. Feeling part of a priestly community, in which everyone is important - not because it is the sum of people living together, but because of the relationships they create, this feeling of belonging to this community - awakens and encourages processes and dynamics capable of transcending the time .
This sense of belonging and recognition will help to creatively unleash and stimulate renewed missionary energies that promote an evangelical humanism capable of becoming intelligence and a driving force in our continent. Without this sense of belonging and work hand in hand, on the contrary, we will disperse, we will weaken and what would be worse, we will deprive so many of our brothers of the strength, the light and the consolation of friendship with Jesus Christ and of a community of faith that gives a horizon of meaning and life (see Exhort, Evangelii Gaudium, 49). And so, little by little, and almost without realizing it, we will end up offering Latin America a "God without Church, a Church without Christ, a Christ without a people" (Homily at the Mass of Santa Marta, 11 November 2016) or, if we want to put it another way, a God without Christ, a Christ without a Church, a Church without a people ... pure re-elaborated Gnosticism.