Pope Francis says "Just as we want mercy when we go to ask forgiveness for our sins and seek the most merciful, be merciful. With all." FULL TEXT



Sala Clementina
Monday, 7 February 2022


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

I thank the Rector for the words he addressed to me and I welcome you. I am happy that together with you priests there are the people who with their service animate the life of the seminary and form the great family of the "Lombard". We meet again today, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the election of Pope Pius XI , your former pupil - and one of the first pupils! - who always had "his dear" seminary at heart, for which he provided the area in which you are located, in the shadow of the Salus populi romaniIt is good that you are there and it is also an opportunity for me to think about you often. From these roots linked to Pius XI we try to draw some ideas: not to cultivate nostalgia for the past and close ourselves to the newness of the Spirit, who invites us to live today, but to find prophetic signs for your ministry and your mission, in particular at the service of the Church and the Italian people.

As soon as he was elected, Pius XI chose to look no longer inside the Basilica of San Pietro, but from the external Loggia. He thus wanted his first blessing to be addressed Urbi et Orbi, to the city of Rome and to the whole world. And with this gesture - I think they worked more than 40 minutes to open that balcony that hadn't opened for years, and also to empty that place, which had become a warehouse; and he waited - with this gesture he reminds us that it is necessary to open up, to expand the horizon of the ministry to the dimensions of the world, to reach every child, whom God desires to embrace with his love for him. Please, we do not remain barricaded in the sacristy and we do not cultivate small closed groups where we can pamper ourselves and rest assured. There is a world that awaits the Gospel and the Lord desires his shepherds to conform to him, carrying the expectations and burdens of the flock on their hearts and shoulders. Hearts open, compassionate, merciful.

And this leads me to think about the experience that exists among you, about the confessors of Santa Maria Maggiore: "Go to that one, to that one ... But not from that one! Please, which makes your life impossible!" . Seek out merciful priests for us, and we be merciful to others. Just as we want mercy when we go to ask forgiveness for our sins and seek the most merciful, be merciful. With all. Do not forget that God never tires of forgiving. We are the ones who get tired of asking for forgiveness, but He never tires of forgiving. That breadth of forgiveness, without making too many problems: forgiveness. Hearts open, compassionate, merciful, I said, and industrious, generous hands that get dirty and wounded for love, like those of Jesus on the cross.

That gesture of Pius XI was worth more than a thousand words. In general, the gestures of Pius XI were worth a thousand words, because he was a pope with personality, to put it finely. In these years you have studied and deepened, this is a gift from God. But your knowledge never becomes abstract from life and history. The Gospel does not need a Church that has so many things to say, but whose words are devoid of anointing and do not touch the flesh of the people. To have words of life it is necessary to bend science to the Spirit in prayer and then to live in the concrete situations of the Church and of the world. The testimony of life is needed: be priests burned with the desire to take the Gospel to the streets of the world, in neighborhoods, in homes, especially in the poorest and most forgotten places. The testimony, the gestures, like that first gesture of Pius XI.

A second point. In his first solemn homily, Pope Ratti spoke of the missions and, rather than giving answers, invited us to ask ourselves a question: "What can I offer to the Lord?" Homily on the 300th anniversary of the foundation of the Congreg. De Propaganda Fide , June 4, 1922). It's a good question, which you can apply to everything you are doing right now to prepare for your mission. What I can offer is a question that does not revolve around you, the desire for that chair, that parish, that post in the curia; no, it is a question that asks us to open our hearts to availability and service. It is a question that defends us from careerism. Beware of careerism, please! In the end it doesn't help, it doesn't help.

Let us ask ourselves “ what can I offer? ”At the beginning of each day. Often, even here in Italy, ecclesial discourses are reduced to sterile internal dialectics between those who are innovators and those who are conservative, between those who prefer that politician and who that other, and the central point is forgotten: being Church to live and spread the Gospel. Let us not worry about the small vegetable gardens at home, there is a whole world thirsting for Christ. Be shepherds of the flock, and not combers of the "exquisite" [better] ones. I urge you to cultivate with enthusiasm in these years and in this city, in the universal dimension of Rome and Lombardy, an open heart, an available heart, a missionary heart!

The last point I draw from one of the numerous social encyclicals of Pius XI. I read some words, written almost a century ago and yet very topical: "What hurts the eyes is that in our times there is not only the concentration of wealth, but the accumulation of an enormous power, of a despotic mastery of the economy in the hands of few. […] This power becomes more despotic than ever in those who, holding money in hand, are the masters; hence they are in some way the distributors of the blood itself, on which the economic organism lives, and have in their hands, so to speak, the soul of the economy "(Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo anno , 105-106). Is hard!

How true and how tragic all this is now, while the gap between the few rich and the many poor is getting wider and wider. In this context of inequalities, which the pandemic has increased, you will find yourselves living and working as priests of the Second Vatican Council, as signs and instruments of the communion of men with God and with one another (cf. Lumen gentium , 1). Therefore, be weavers of communion, eradicators of inequalities, pastors attentive to the signs of suffering of the people. Even through the knowledge you are acquiring, be competent and courageous in raising prophetic words in the name of the voiceless.

Great tasks await you. To achieve them, I invite you to ask God to dream of the beauty of the Church . The Church is beautiful! Dreaming of the Italian Church of tomorrow more faithful to the spirit of the Gospel, freer, more fraternal and joyful in bearing witness to Jesus, animated by the ardor to reach out to those who have not known the "God of all consolation" ( 2 Cor 1: 3). An Italian Church that cultivates a communion stronger than any distinction and is even more passionate for the poor, in whom Jesus is present. Sant'Ambrogio and San Carlo accompany you and the Salus populi guard you. I bless you and you, please pray for me. Thank you!