Pope Francis says "... the Holy Spirit’s flame that attracts generation after generation to the joyful proclamation of the Gospel, for the joy of the Church is to evangelize!" FULL TEXT + Video
Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 6 April 2022
Apostolic Journey to Malta
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Last Saturday and Sunday I traveled to Malta: an Apostolic Journey that had been planned for quite some time. It was postponed two years ago due to Covid and these things. Not many people know about Malta, even though it is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. It received the Gospel very early. Why?
Because the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked near its coasts and miraculously saved himself along with all those on the ship with him – more than two hundred seventy people. The book of the Acts of the Apostles recounts that the Maltese welcomed all of them, and uses this word: “with unusual kindness” (28:2). I chose these very words – with unusual kindness – as the motto of my Journey because they indicate the path to follow, not only to face the phenomenon of migrants, but more generally, so that the world might become more fraternal, more livable, and might be saved from a “shipwreck” that menaces all of us. For we are all – as we have learned – in the same boat, all of us. Viewed from that horizon, Malta is a key-place.
Above all, it is so geographically, due to its position in the centre of the Sea between Europe and Africa, that also bathes Asia. Malta is a sort of “wind rose”, where peoples and cultures meet. It is a perfect place to observe the Mediterranean area from a 360º degree perspective.
Today we often hear about “geopolitics”. But unfortunately, the dominant logic are the strategies of the most powerful countries to affirm their own interests, extending their area of economic influence, or ideological influence, and/or military influence. We are seeing this with the war. In this scheme, Malta represents the rights and power of the “small” nations, small but rich in history and civilization that should lead toward another logic – that of respect and freedom – the logic of respect and also the logic of freedom, of the coexistence of differences, opposed to the colonization of the most powerful. We are seeing this now. And not only from one side: even from others… After World War II, the attempt was made to lay the foundations of a new era of peace. But, unfortunately – we never learn, right? – the old story of competition between the greater powers went on. And, in the current war in Ukraine, we are witnessing the impotence of the Organizations of the United Nations.
Second aspect: Malta is a key-place regarding the phenomenon of migration. In the John XXIII welcome centre, I met numerous migrants who landed on the island after terrible journeys. We must never tire of listening to their testimonies because only this way can we emerge from a distorted vision that is often circulated in the mass media, and the faces, the stories, the wounds, the dreams and the hopes of these migrants can emerge. Every migrant is unique. He or she is not a number but a person. Each is unique just like each one of us. Every migrant is a person with dignity, with roots, with a culture. Each of them is the bearer of a wealth infinitely greater than the problems they bring. And let us not forget that Europe was made of migrations.
Certainly, welcoming them must be organized – this is true – and supervised; and first, long before, it must be planned together, at an international level. The phenomenon of migration cannot be reduced to a crisis; it is a sign of our times. It should be read and interpreted as such. It can become a sign of conflict, or rather a sign of peace. It depends on how we take it; it depends on us. Those who gave life to the John XXIII Centre on Malta made the Christian choice. This is why it is called “Peace Lab”: laboratory of peace. But I would like to say that Malta in its entirety is a laboratory for peace! The entire nation through is attitudes, its own attitudes, is a laboratory for peace. And it can realize this, its mission, if it draws the sap of fraternity, compassion and solidarity from its roots. The Maltese people have received these values, together with the Gospel. And, thanks to the Gospel, they will be able to keep them alive.
For this reason, as Bishop of Rome, I went to confirm that people in the faith and in communion. In fact – the third aspect – Malta is the key-place from the perspective of evangelization as well. From Malta and from Gozo, the country’s two dioceses, many priests and religious, but even lay faithful, left to bring their Christian witness all over the world. It is as if Paul’s passing through there left his mission in the DNA of the Maltese! For this reason, my visit was above all an act of gratitude – gratitude to God and to the holy, faithful people from Malta and Gozo.
Nevertheless, the wind of secularism, of a globalized pseudo culture based on consumerism, neocapitalism and relativism, blows there as well. Therefore, it is time for the new evangelization there too. Like my predecessors, the visit that I made to the Grotto of Saint Paul was like drawing from the spring so that the Gospel might flow through Malta with the freshness of its origins and revive its great heritage of popular religiosity. This is symbolized in the National Marian Shrine of Ta’ Pinu on the island of Gozo where we celebrated an intense moment of prayer. There I heard the heart of the Maltese people beat. They have an immense trust in their Holy Mother. Mary always brings us back to the essentials, to Christ crucified and risen. And this for us, to his merciful love. Mary helps us to revive the flame of faith by drawing from the Holy Spirit’s flame that attracts generation after generation to the joyful proclamation of the Gospel, for the joy of the Church is to evangelize! Let us not forget this, this phrase from Saint Paul VI: the vocation of the Church is to evangelize. The joy of the Church is to evangelize. Let us not forget this any longer: it is the most beautiful definition of the Church.
I take this opportunity to renew my gratitude to the President of the Republic of Malta, so courteous and brotherly: thanks to him and to his family; to the Prime Minister and the other Civil Authorities who welcomed me with such kindness; as well as the Bishops and all the members of the ecclesial community, to the volunteers and to all who accompanied me in prayer. I would not want to neglect to mention the welcome Centre for migrants, John XXIII: and the Franciscan Friar there [Father Dionisio Mintoff] who keeps it going at the age of 91, and continues to work thus with collaborators from the diocese. It is an example of apostolic zeal and love for migrants which is very much needed today. Through this visit, we sow, but it is the Lord who gives the growth. May His infinite goodness grant abundant fruit of peace and every good to the dear Maltese people! Thanks to the Maltese people for such a human, such a Christian welcome. Thank you very much.
The recent news of the war in Ukraine, rather than bringing relief and hope, attests instead of new atrocities, like the massacre in Bucha: ever more horrendous cruelty done even against defenseless civilians, women and children. They are victims whose innocent blood cries to Heaven and implores: put an end to this war! Silence the weapons! Stop sowing death and destruction! Let us pray together for this…
And yesterday, precisely from Bucha, they brought me this flag. This flag comes from the war, precisely from that war-torn city, Bucha. There are also some Ukrainian children who are here with us. Let us greet them and pray together with them.
These children had to escape and come to a foreign land: this is one of the fruits of war. Let us not forget them, and let us not forget the Ukrainian people. It is hard to be uprooted from your own land due to war.
* * *
Today is International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, declared by the United Nations. I turn to the men and women of sport so that through their activity, they might be active witnesses of fraternity and peace. With its values, sports can carry out an important role in the world, opening the way to harmony among peoples, a pact that never loses its capacity of gratuitousness. Sport for the sake of sports: may it not become commercialized – the amateur aspect typical of true sports.
Je salue cordialment les pèlerins de langue française, especially the Office International de l'Enseignement Catholique et les jeunes venus de France et de Belgique. Frères et sœurs, en ces moments où le monde fait face à de grands phénomènes migratoires, apprenons, à l'exemple des Maltais, à vaincre indifférence et la peur de l'Autre afin de construire des sociétés fondées sur accueil et solidarity. Sur chacune de vos personnes, j'invoque la Bénédiction de Dieu.
[ I cordially greet the French-speaking pilgrims, in particular the International Office of Catholic Teaching and the young people who have come from France and Belgium. Brothers and sisters, in these moments when the world is facing great migratory phenomena, we learn, following the example of the Maltese, to overcome the indifference and fear of the other in order to build societies based on hospitality and solidarity. Upon each of you I invoke God's Blessing. ]
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today's Audience, especially the groups from Denmark and the United States. May our Lenten journey bring us to celebrate Easter with hearts purified and renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. I invoke upon each of you, and your families, joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Herzlich grüße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache. Die Gottesmutter Maria hat ihren Sohn di lei auf seinem Weg zum Kreuz treu begleitet. Sie sei auch mit uns in aller Dunkelheit unserer Zeit. Sie führe uns zu ihrem Sohn of her, der uns durch seinen Tod und seine Auferstehung den Weg zur ewigen Freude erschlossen hat. Auch wenn es im deutschen Text nicht gestanden hat, möchte ich hier die deutsche Musikkapelle grüßen, die bei meiner Ankunft gespielt hat. Vielen Dank!
[ I warmly greet the German-speaking pilgrims. Mary faithfully accompanied her Son on the way of the cross. May she also be with us in all the darkness of our time. May she lead us to her Son of her who, through her death and resurrection, she has opened for us the way of eternal joy. Even though it wasn't there in the German greeting, I greet the German band that was playing when I entered. Thank you very much! ]
I cordially greet los peregrinos de lengua española. Agradezco al Señor haberme permitido realizar este Viaje apostólico in Malta and también por todos los misioneros que desde ess nación have llevado al mundo el testimio del Evangelio. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Dirijo uma saudação especial a todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, especially ao agrupamento de escolas da Lourinhã. Agradeço as vossas orações, especially aquelas orações feitas pela minha recent apostolic visit to Malta. A nossa vida é uma maravilhosa peregrinação que pode contar com a proximidade de Jesus. Ele impele-nos ao fraternal encounter and desafia-nos ao amor reciprocal. Deus vos abençoe!
[ I address a special greeting to the Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, in particular to the school groups of Lourinhã. I thank you for your prayers, especially those made for my recent apostolic trip to Malta. Our life is a wonderful pilgrimage that can count on the closeness of Jesus. He pushes us to find and love each other as brothers. God bless you! ]
أُحَيِّي المؤمِنينَ الناطِقينَ باللغَةِ العربِيَّة. ابقوا ثابتين في إيمانكم بيسوع المسيح ، فهو يحبّكم ويثق بكم ولن يخيّب ظنّكم أبدًا. باركَكُم الرّبُّ جَميعًا وحَماكُم دائِمًا مِن كُلِّ شَرّ!
[ I greet the Arabic-speaking faithful. Stand firm in your faith in Jesus Christ, because he loves you, he believes in you, and he will never let you down. The Lord bless you all and always protect you from all evil! ]
Pozdrawiam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. Bardzo dziękuję wam, że towarzyszyliście mi w modlitwie podczas mojej pielgrzymki na Maltę. W tym czasie Wielkiego Postu, który przygotowuje nas do świąt Zmartwychwstania Pańskiego, okazaliście niezwykłą i przykładną życzliwość dla naszych embers Ukraińców. Niech za tę waszą solidarną postawę Pan błogosławi waszej ojczyźnie i ukaże wam swoje Oblicze of him.
[ I cordially greet the Polish pilgrims. Thank you for accompanying me in prayer during my pilgrimage to Malta. During this time of Lent, which prepares us for the celebration of the Lord's Resurrection, you have shown an extraordinary and exemplary generosity towards our Ukrainian brothers, for whom you have opened the hearts and doors of your homes. The Lord bless your homeland for this solidarity of yours and show you his Face. ]
* * *
I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims - who are the majority. In particular, I greet the spouses and assistant priests of the “Incontro Matrimonial” Association, encouraging their service to married couples, families, engaged couples and those who want to improve the quality of their relationships. Let us not forget that the matrimonial catechumenate is important: before marriage and after marriage, the first years, to help develop the beauty of the family and marriage. I also greet the formation priests of the Word Fathers, as well as the pupils and teachers of the “Dedalo” Schools. I urge everyone to bring the light of the Gospel everywhere, through a joyful Christian witness.
Finally, as usual, my thoughts go to the elderly, the sick, the young and the newlyweds. I invite you to live the upcoming Holy Week with intense participation in the Mystery of redemptive love, which will be remembered in it. May the light of the Son of God, crucified and risen, guide you to the witness of his truth, which opens the minds of the young, reassures the hearts of the sick and the elderly and supports the mutual love of the spouses. To all, my blessing!
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va + Screenshot