Pope Francis' Visit to Calabria, Italy. June 21, 2014


Pope's Homily at Mass in Calabria's Piana di Sibari
"We ask the Lord to convert us, so that we truly adore only Him and so we can renounce evil in all its forms"

VATICAN CITY, June 21, 2014  - Below is a translation of the Pope's homily given at the closing Mass for Saturday's Calabrian visit to the Diocese of Cassano allo Jonio, which was celebrated at Piana di Sibari, the largest plain in Calabria, at 4 p.m.:


On the feast of Corpus Domini, we celebrate Jesus “living bread that came down from heaven” (Jn 6,51), food for our hunger for eternal life, strength for our journey. I thank the Lord, who today allows me to celebrate Corpus Domini with you, brothers and sisters of this Church, which is in Cassano allo Jonio. Today’s feast is that on which the Church praises the Lord for the gift of the Eucharist. While on Holy Thursday, we recall its institution at the Last Supper, today thanksgiving and adoration predominate. And, in fact, it is tradition on this day to have the procession with the Blessed Sacrament. To adore Jesus Eucharist and to walk with him. These are the two inseparable aspects of today’s feast, two aspects that mark the entire life of the Christian people: a people that adores God and walks with him.

Before all else, we are a people who adores God. We adore God, who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave himself for us, offered himself on the cross to expiate our sins and by the power of this love he rose from death and lives in his Church. We do have no other God than this!

When adoration of the Lord is substituted by adoration of money, the road to sin opens to personal interest ... When one does not adore the Lord, one becomes an adorer of evil, like those who live by dishonesty and violence. Your land, which so beautiful, knows the signs of the consequences of this sin. The ‘ndrangheta (Calabrian mafia) is this: adoration of evil and contempt of the common good. This evil must be fought, must be expelled. It must be told no. The Church, which is so committed to educating consciences, must always expend itself even more so that good can prevail. Our children ask this of us. Our young people ask this of us, they, who need hope. To be able to respond to this demands, faith can help us. Those who in their lives have taken this evil road, this road of evil, such as the mobsters, they are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated.

Today, we confess this with our gaze turned to Corpus Domini, to the Sacrament of the altar. And, for this faith, we renounce Satan and all of his temptations; we renounce the idols of money, vanity, pride and power. We, Christians, do not want to adore anything or anyone in this world except Jesus Christ, who is present in the Holy Eucharist. Perhaps we do not always realize what this means in all its depth, the consequences our profession of faith has or should have. Today we ask the Lord to enlighten us and to convert us, so that we truly adore only him and we renounce evil in all its forms.

But our faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, in the consecrated bread and wine, is authentic if we commit to follow him and to walk with him, seeking to put into practice his commandment which he gave to the disciples at the Last Supper: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (Jn 13,34). A people who adores God in the Eucharist is a people who walks in charity.

Today, as bishop of Rome, I am here to confirm you not only in faith but also in charity, to accompany you and to encourage you in your journey with Jesus Charity. I want to express my support to the bishop, the priests and the deacons of this Church, and also of the Eparchy of Lungro, rich in its Greek-Byzantine tradition. But I extend it to all the pastors and faithful of the Church in Calabria, courageously committed to evangelization and to promoting lifestyles and initiatives which put at the centre the needs of the poor and of the. And I also extend it to the civil authorities who seek to live political and administrative commitment for what it is—a service to the common good.

I encourage all to witness practical solidarity with your brothers, especially those who most need justice, hope and tenderness. Thank God, there are many signs of hope in your families, parishes, associations and ecclesial movements.  The Lord Jesus does not cease to inspire acts of charity in his people who journey! The Policoro Project is a concrete sign of hope for young people who want to get in the game and create work possibilities for themselves and for others. You, dear young people, do not let yourselves to be robbed of hope! Adoring Jesus in your hears and remaining united to him you will know how to oppose evil, injustice, violence with the force of good, truth and beauty. 

Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist has gathered us together. The Body of the Lord makes of us one, one family, the people of God united around Jesus, Bread of Life. That which I said to the young people, I say to all of you: if you will adore Christ, follow him and walk with him, your diocesan Church and your parishes will grow in faith and charity, in the joy of evangelizing. You will be a Church in which fathers, mothers, priests, religious, catechists, children, the elderly and the young walk alongside each other, support each other, help each other, love each other like brothers, especially in moments of difficulty.

Mary, Eucharistic Woman, whom you venerate in many sanctuaries, especially at the one in Castrovillari, precedes you in this pilgrimage of faith. May she always help you to stay united so that, even by means of your witness, the Lord may continue to give life to the world.


Pope's Address to Calabrian Priests
"If we are open 'channels,' His abundant love can flow through"

VATICAN CITY, June 21, 2014 - Below is a translation of the Pope's address to the diocesan priests of Cassano all’Jonio at noon today which took place in the diocesan cathedral:


Dear Priests,

I thank you for your welcome! I very much desired this meeting with you, who bear the daily weight of parish work.

I would like first of all to share with you the joy of being priests. The ever new surprise of having been called, in fact, of having been called by the Lord Jesus. Called to follow Him, to be with Him, to go to others taking Him, His Word, his forgiveness … There is nothing more beautiful for man than this, isn’t that true? When we priests are before the tabernacle, and we pause a moment there, in silence, then we feel Jesus’ look again on us, and this look renews us, it reanimates us …

Certainly, sometimes it is not easy to remain before the Lord; it is not easy because we are prey of so many things, of so many persons …; but sometimes it is not easy because we feel a certain discomfort, Jesus’ look disturbs us a bit, it puts us also in crisis … But this does us good! In the silence of prayer Jesus makes us see if we are working as good agents, or perhaps we have become somewhat like “employees”; if we are open, generous “channels” through which His love, His grace flow abundantly , or if instead we put ourselves at the center, and so, instead of being “channels,” we become “screens” which do not help the encounter with the Lord, with the light and strength of the Gospel.

And the second thing I wish to share with you is the beauty of fraternity: of being priests together, of following the Lord not on our own, not one to one, but together, also in the great variety of gifts and personalities; in fact, it is precisely this that enriches the presbytery, the variety of provenance, of age, of talents … And everything lived in communion, in fraternity.

This also is not easy, it is not immediate and taken for granted. First of all because we priests are also immersed in today’s subjectivist culture, this culture that exalts the “I” to the point of idolizing it. And then because of a certain pastoral individualism that, unfortunately, is diffused in our dioceses. Therefore, we must react to this with the choice of fraternity. I speak of “choice” intentionally. It cannot be something left to chance, to favorable circumstances … No, it is a choice, which corresponds to the reality that constitutes us, to the gift we received but which must always be gathered and cultivated: communion in Christ in the presbytery, around the Bishop. This communion calls for being lived, seeking concrete ways appropriate to the times and to the reality of the territory, but always in an apostolic perspective, with a missionary style, with fraternity and simplicity of life. When Jesus says: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35), he says it, certainly, for all, but first of all for the Twelve, for those He has called to follow him more closely.

The joy of being priests and the beauty of fraternity: these are the two things that I felt most important thinking of you. I mention only one last thing: I encourage you in your work with families and for the family. It is a work that the Lord asks us to do in a particular way at this time, which is a difficult time, both for the family as institution and for families because of the crisis. But precisely when the time is difficult, God makes His closeness felt, His grace, the prophetic force of His Word. And we are called to be witnesses, mediators of this closeness to families and of this prophetic force for the family.

Dear brothers, I thank you. And let us go forward, animated by our common love for the Lord and Holy Mother Church. May Our Lady protect and accompany you. We remain united in prayer. Thank you!


Pope's Discourse to Detainees in Rosetta Sisca Penitentiary in Calabria
"I too have my mistakes and I have to do penance"

VATICAN CITY, June 21, 2014  - Here is a translation of the original text of Pope Francis' speech to detainees in the Rosetta Sisca penitentiary in Castrovillari this morning. It was the Pope's first stop during today's Calabria visit:


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The first gesture of my pastoral visit is my meeting with you, in this Administrative House of Castrovillari. In this way I would like to express the closeness of the Pope and of the Church to every man and every woman who is in prison, anywhere in the world. Jesus said: “I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:36).

Stressed often in reflections regarding the detained is the subject of respect for the fundamental rights of man and the exigency of corresponding conditions of expiation of the punishment. This aspect of penitentiary policy is certainly essential and attention to the same must always be high. However, this perspective is not yet sufficient if it is not accompanied and completed by a concrete commitment by the institutions in view of an effective reinsertion in the society (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the 17th Conference of Directors of Penitentiary Administrations of the Council of Europe, November 22, 2012). When this end is neglected, the execution of the punishment degrades to a sole instrument of punishment and social retaliation, which in turn is harmful for the individual and for society. And God does not do this with us. When God forgives us, He accompanies and helps us on the way – always, also in small things. When we go to confession, the Lord says to us: “I forgive you. But now come with me.” And He helps us to take up the way again. He never condemns. He never forgives only, but He forgives and accompanies. Then we are fragile and we must return to confession, all of us. But He does not tire. He always takes us by the hand again. This is the love of God, and we must imitate Him! Society must imitate Him, it must follow this way.

Moreover, a true and full reinsertion of the person does not happen as the end of a purely human endeavor. On this journey the encounter with God also enters, the capacity to let oneself be looked at by God who loves us. It is more difficult to let ourselves be looked at by God than to look at God. It is more difficult to let oneself be encountered by God than to encounter God, because there is always a resistance in us. And He waits for us, He looks at us, He seeks us always -- this God who loves us, who is able to understand us, able to forgive our errors. The Lord is a teacher of reinsertion: He takes us by the hand and leads us back to the social community. The Lord always forgives, always accompanies, always understands; it is for us to let ourselves be understood, to allow ourselves to be forgiven, to allow ourselves to be accompanied.

I wish for each one of you that  this time is not lost, but that it be a precious time, during which to ask and to obtain this grace of God. By doing so, you will contribute to render better, first of all, yourselves, but at the same time also the community, because in good and evil, our actions have an influence on others and on the whole human family.

At this moment I would like to express an affectionate thought to your families. May the Lord grant you to embrace them again in serenity and peace.

And, finally, an encouragement to all those who work in this House: to the Directors, to the Prison Police agents, and to all the personnel.

I bless you all from my heart and entrust you to the protection of the Madonna, our Mother. And please, I ask you to pray for me, because I also make mistakes and must do penance. Thank you.