Pope Francis says “to welcome vulnerable brothers and sisters requires that I feel vulnerable and welcomed as such by Christ” to Conference on Vulnerability

TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE "Chair of Welcome" Conference
Clementine Hall
Friday, March 1, 2024
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and thank you for coming!
In these days you have been gathered at the Fraterna Domus of Sacrofano for the second "Chair of hospitality". That's a good place! Not only because it is large and equipped: it is suitable because it is welcoming! It is a place where elderly people, families and children in difficulty, migrants are welcomed. This is why it is nice that the sisters of the Domus Fraternal Association are somewhat of the driving force and animators of this initiative. Thank you, dear sisters!
I saw your program these days: very rich and very interesting.

You put vulnerability at the center. That is, you made acceptance and vulnerability "react" - as we would say in chemistry - considered in its different forms. I appreciate this choice, typically evangelical, and I would like to leave you with some ideas for reflection and journey.
First of all: to welcome vulnerable brothers and sisters I must feel vulnerable and welcomed as such by Christ. He always precedes us: he made himself vulnerable, up to the Passion; he welcomed our fragility because, thanks to Him, we can do the same. Saint Paul writes: "Welcome one another as Christ welcomed you" (see Rom 15:7). If we remain in Him, like branches in the vine, we will bear good fruit, even in this vast field of hospitality.
A second idea. Jesus spent most of his public ministry, especially in Galilee, in contact with the poor and sick of all kinds. This tells us that for us vulnerability cannot be a "politically correct" theme, or a mere organization of practices, however good. I say this because unfortunately the risk is there, it is always lurking, despite all the good will. Especially in larger and more structured realities, but also in small ones, vulnerability can become a category, people faceless individuals, service a "performance" and so on. Then we must remain well anchored to the Gospel, to Jesus, who did not teach his disciples to plan care for the sick and the poor. Jesus wanted to train his disciples in a lifestyle by being in contact with the vulnerable among them. The disciples saw how He met people, they saw how He welcomed: his closeness, his compassion, his tenderness. And after the Resurrection the Holy Spirit imprinted this lifestyle in them. Thus, then, the Spirit has always formed men and women who have become saints by loving vulnerable people like Jesus. Some are canonized and are models for all of us; but how many men and women have sanctified themselves by welcoming the little ones, the poor, the fragile, the marginalized! And it is important, in our communities, to share the stories of these hidden witnesses of the Gospel with simplicity and gratitude.
I would like to leave you with one last point. In the Gospel the poor, the vulnerable, are not objects, they are subjects, they are protagonists together with Jesus of the announcement of the Kingdom of God. Let us think of Bartimaeus, the blind man from Jericho (see Mk 10:46-52). That story is emblematic, I invite you to reread it often because he is very rich. Studying and meditating on this text we see that Jesus finds in that man the faith he was looking for: only Jesus recognizes him in the midst of the crowd and the noise, listens to his cry full of faith. And that man, who receives his sight again through his faith in the Lord, sets out, follows Jesus and becomes a witness of him, so much so that his story entered the Gospels. The vulnerable Bartimaeus, saved by the vulnerable Jesus, shares in the joy of witnessing his Resurrection. I mentioned this story to you, but there would be many others, with different types of vulnerability, not just physical. Let's think of Magdalene: she, who was tormented by seven demons, became the first witness of the risen Jesus. In summary: vulnerable people, met and welcomed with the grace of Christ and with his style, can be a presence of the Gospel in the believing community and in society.
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for your commitment. Go on! May Our Lady always accompany you. I bless you all from the bottom of my heart. And I ask you to please pray for me. Thank you.