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FYI: Pope Francis will make his debt on Instagram March 19 under the handle Franciscus.
POPE HIGHLIGHTS MIGRANTS IN CATECHESIS ON MERCY AND CONSOLATION
The general audience Wednesday was marked by a papal appeal to leaders to open their doors to migrants. Pope Francis told the 25,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, “I like to see leaders who open their hearts and their doors” to the many migrants fleeing their countries.”
As he gave his weekly catechesis, highlighting mercy and consolation, the Holy Father interrupted his prepared text many times with off-the-cuff remarks, especially about the countless migrants who attempt to enter Europe as they leave their native lands because of poverty, war and violence.
He spoke of “our many brothers and sisters who are living a real and dramatic situation of exile, far from their homeland, with the ruins of their homes and the fear still in their eyes, and even, unfortunately, the pain for the loss of their loved ones.”
Francis asked: “How is it possible that so much pain can strike innocent men, women and children who find doors closed to them when they attempt to go elsewhere? And they are there, on the border, because so many doors and so many hearts are closed. Migrants today are suffering. They are without food and they are not allowed in. They do not feel a welcome” he said. “God does not forget the pain of those who are rejected” and, in such cases, “it is easy to ask oneself: where is God?”
The Pope’s reflections centered on a reading in the book of the Prophet Jeremiah that he described as containing a message of consolation. Jeremiah, he explained, turns to the Israelites who had been exiled. This experience had shaken their faith, yet the prophet proclaims that God, far from abandoning his people, reaffirms his faithful love and his promise of salvation. Jeremiah’s words of consolation and hope have a particular resonance today in the light of so many tragic situations of exile throughout our world.
He explicitly mentioned Albania’s recent history, noting that, after “so much persecution and destruction, (this nation) has managed to lift itself in dignity and faith.”
Francis also spoke of St. Patrick at the end of the general audience when he traditionally greets young people, the ill and newlyweds. “Tomorrow we will commemorate St. Patrick, the apostle of Ireland. May his spiritual stamina stir you, dear young people, to be consistent with your faith; may his trust in Christ the Savior sustain you, dear sick and infirm people, in times of great difficulty; and may his missionary dedication remind you, dear newlyweds, of the importance of the Christian education of your children.”
PAPAL SOLIDARITY FOR PEOPLE SUFFERING VIOLENCE IN MIDDLE EAST
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis Wednesday offered words of solidarity for those in the Middle East currently suffering from the wars and violence which are affecting the region. (photo: news.va)
“How many experiences of exile, expatriation, grief, and persecution that pushes us to doubt even the goodness of God, and His love for us,” Pope Francis said, while greeting Arab-speaking pilgrims during the weekly general audience.
“Doubt which dissipates in front of the truth that God is faithful, close, and keeps his promise to those who do not doubt Him, and for those who hope against hope,” – the Holy Father continued – “The consolation of the Lord is near to those who pass through the agonizing night of doubt, clinging and hoping for the dawn of the Mercy of God, which the totality of the darkness and injustice will never be able to defeat.”
Pope Francis concluded his remarks by saying: “The Lord bless you all, and protect you from evil!”
MEDICINES FOR THE POOR AND HOMELESS AT THE VATICAN
(Vatican Radio) One of the many initiatives in favor of the poor that has sprung to life thanks to the wish of Pope Francis is an outlet providing medicines to those in need.
Close to the shower and hairdressing facilities, which are open to homeless and indigent people near the right-hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, is a “solidarity” counter that hands out medicines provided by the Italian “Banco Farmaceutico” whose mission is to respond to the needs of poor people.
The Vatican counter is one of the 1,663 charitable entities in Italy that received donations of medicines by ordinary citizens on the National Collection Day last February 13.
Speaking on Wednesday at the launch, the president of the “Medicina Sociale” Association that participates in the project said: “We are proud to be able to contribute to the initiative promoted by Pope Francis to open a solidarity medicine counter in St. Peter’s Square. It is a gesture of true mercy and we cannot remain indifferent.”
The 2016 XVI National Medicine Collection Day is currently present in 94 Italian provinces. However it aims to consolidate and expand its activities through the structured and continuous contribution of an ever growing number of volunteers and pharmacies to be able to respond more efficiently to the increasing number of requests it receives for medicines from charity organizations.
The National Day is promoted by the non-profit “Banco Farmaceutico Foundation” which also provides broader support to the poor.
It currently receives donations from over 30 pharmaceutical companies, from pharmacies and operates to recover unexpired medicines from private individuals.