Pope Francis' Visit to Pompeii, Italy - March 21, 2015 

Pope's Prayer in Pompeii

"Mother and model of the Church, you are our guide and secure support."

VATICAN CITY, March 21, 2015 - Below is the Vatican Radio provided translation of Pope Francis' prayer this morning in Pompeii during his one day pastoral visit there and to Naples:

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Pope’s Prayer in Pompeii

Virgin of the Holy Rosary, Mother of the Redeemer, our earthly Lady raised above the heavens, humble servant of the Lord, proclaimed Queen of the world, from the depth of our miseries we turn to you. With the faithfulness of children we look to your sweet gaze.

Crowned with twelve stars, you bring us to the mystery of the Father, you shine the splendor of the Holy Spirit, you give us our Divine Child, Jesus, our hope, our only salvation in the world. Comforted by your Rosary, you invite us to be fixed to his gaze. You open to us His heart, abyss of joy and sorry, of light and glory, mystery of the son of God, made man for us. At your feet in the footsteps of the saints, we feel as God’s family.

Mother and model of the Church, you are our guide and secure support. Make us one heart and one mind, a strong people on the way towards the heavenly homeland. We entrust our miseries, the many streets of hate and blood, the thousands of ancient and new poverties and above all, our sins. To you we entrust ourselves, Mother of Mercy: grant us the forgiveness of God, help us to build a world according to your heart.

O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain that ties us to God, chain of love that makes us brothers, we will not leave you again. You will be in our hands a weapon of peace and forgiveness, star that guides our path. And the kiss to you with our last breath, we plunge into a wave of light, in the vision of the beloved Mother and the Son of God, the desire and joy of our heart, with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

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Pope Francis' Address to the Faithful in Scampia

"Life in Naples has never been easy, but it has never been sad! And this is your great asset: joy, happiness."

NAPLES, March 21, 2015 - Here is the translation of the Pope's address this morning to the faithful gathered in John Paul II Square in the Scampia neighborhood of Naples.

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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

I wanted to begin my visit to Naples from here, from this periphery. I greet you all and I thank you for your warm welcome! It can truly be seen that Neapolitans are not cold people! I thank your Archbishop for having invited me – even threatened if I did not come to Naples – for his words of welcome; and thanks to those who have given a voice to the reality of immigrants, of workers and the magistrates.

You belong to a people with a long history, crossed by complex and dramatic events. Life in Naples has never been easy, but it has never been sad! And this is your great asset: joy, happiness. The daily path in this city, with its difficulties and hardships and sometimes its hard trials, produces a culture of life that always helps to get up again after every fall, and to do so that evil will never have the last word. This is a beautiful challenge: never let evil have the last word. It is hope, as you know well, this great patrimony, this "leverage of the soul", so precious, yet also exposed to assaults and robberies.

We know it, whoever voluntarily takes the path of evil robs a piece of hope, they gain a little something but robs hope from themselves, from others in society. The path of evil is a path that always robs hope, it robs also from honest and hard-working people, and also the good name of the city, of its economy.

I would like to respond to the sister who spoke in the name of the immigrants and those without a stable home. She asked for one word that assures that the migrants are sons of God and that they are citizens. But is it necessary to arrive to this? Are migrants second class human beings? We must listen to our migrant brothers and sisters who are citizens, who are like us, sons of God, who are migrants like us, because we are all migrants towards another land, and hopefully we will all arrive there. And may no one be lost on the way! We are all migrants, sons of God who have been placed on the path. You cannot say: "But migrants are like this…We are….". No! We are all migrants, we are all on the path. And this word that we are all migrants is not written in a book, it is written in our flesh, in our path of life, that assures that in Jesus we are all sons of God, loved children, wanted children, saved children. Let us think about this: we are all migrants on the path of life, none of us have a fixed home on this earth, we all should go. And everyone should go to find God: first one, then another, or like that elderly person said, that crafty old man: "Yes, yes everyone! You go, I'll go last!" We all must go.

Then there was an address by a worker. And I thank him, because naturally I wanted to touch upon this point that is a negative sign of our time. In a special way, it is for the lack of work for youth. But think: more than 40% of youth from 25 years and under are without work! This is serious! What does a young person do without work? What future do they have? What path of life do they choose? This is not just a responsibility of the city, not just of the country, but of the world! Why? Because there is an economic system that throws away people and now it is the young people's turn to be thrown away, that is, without work. This is serious! "But there are charitable works, there are volunteers, there is Caritas, there's this center, there's that club that gives food to eat…" But the problem is not eating, the most serious problem is not being able to bring bread home, to not earn it! And when bread isn't earned, one loses their dignity. We must fight for this, we must defend our dignity of citizens, of men, of women, of youth. This is the tragedy of our time. We must not remain in silence. I also think of 'half-work'. What do I mean by this? The exploitation of people at work. Some weeks ago, a girl was in need of work, she found one at a tourism company and the conditions were these: 11 hours of work, 600 euros a month without any contribution to her pension. "But it's very little for 11 hours!" "If you don't like it, look at the line of people waiting for work!" This is called slavery, this is called exploitation, this is not human, this is not Christian. And if the person who does this says he is Christian, he is a liar, he is not saying the truth, he is not Christian. Even exploitation in "under the table" work – you work without a contract and I pay you what I want – is an exploitation of the person.  "Without the contribution for the pension and healthcare?" "I don't care."

I understand you well, brother, and I thank you for what you said. We must take on once again the fight for our dignity which is the fight to look for, to find, to find once again the possibility to bring bread home! This is our struggle!

And here I think of the address given by the President of the Court of Appeals. He used a beautiful expression: "the path of hope" and I remembered a saying of St. John Bosco: "good Christians and honest citizens", to children and young men. The path of hope for children – those who are here and for all – is first and foremost education, but a true education, the path to educate for a future: this precedes and helps to go forward. The judge has said a word I would like to repeat, a word that is used a lot today, the judge said "corruption." But, tell me, if we close the door to migrants, if we take away work and the dignity of people, what is this called? It is called corruption and we all have the possibility of becoming corrupt, none of us can say: "I will never be corrupt." No! It is a temptation, it is a slippery slope towards what is easy, towards delinquency, towards crimes, towards the exploitation of the person. How much corruption there is in the world! It is an ugly word, if we think about it. Because something that is corrupt is something dirty! If we find a dead animal that is decaying, that is "corrupt", it is ugly and even smells! A Christian that allows this corruption within is not a Christian, he stinks!

Dear friends, my presence would like to be an impulse to a path of hope, of rebirth and of healing already underway. I know the generous and active commitment of the Church, present with its communities and its services in the heart of the reality of Scampia; as well as the continued mobilization of volunteer groups, who never fail to help.

I encourage also the presence and the active commitment of the Citizens Institutions, because a community cannot advance without their support, both in moments of crisis and in the presence of difficult social situations as well as extreme one. The "good politics" is a service to the people, that is exercised first at a local level, where the weight of failures, of delays, of the true and proper omissions are more direct and do more harm. The good politics is one of the highest expressions of charity, of service and of love. Do good politics, but amongst yourselves: politics is done together! Good politics are done among everyone!

Naples is always ready to rise, to make a leverage upon a hope forged by thousands of trials, and therefore an authentic and concrete resource which can be counted on in every moment. Its roots reside in the very souls of the Neapolitans, above all in their joy, in their religiosity, in their piety! I hope that you have the courage to go forward with this joy, with this root, the courage to bring forward hope, to never rob hope from no one, to go forward on the path of good, not on the path of evil, to go forward in welcoming all who come to Naples from any country: they are all Neapolitan, and they learn [the] Neapolitan [dialect] which is so sweet and so beautiful! I hope that you go forward in looking for sources of work, so that all may have the dignity of bringing bread home, and to go forward in the cleansing of your own soul, in the cleansing of the city, in the cleansing of society so that there won't be that smell of corruption!

I wish you well, go forward and may Saint Januarius, your patron saint, assist you and intercede for you. I heartfully bless all of you, I bless your families and this, your neighborhood, I bless the children who are surrounding us. And you, please, do not forget to pray for me. ‘A Maronna v’accumpagne! [May Our Lady accompany you!]

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Pope's Homily at Mass in Naple's Piazza Plebiscito

"At the same time, each parish and each ecclesial reality must become a sanctuary for those seeking God and a welcoming home for the poor, the elderly and those in need."

VATICAN CITY, March 21, 2015 - Below is the Vatican Radio provided translation of Pope Francis' homily during his Mass in Naples this morning in Piazza Plebiscito:

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The Gospel we have heard presents us with a scene set in the Temple of Jerusalem, at the height of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, after which Jesus proclaimed a great prophecy revealing himself as the source of “living water,” that is, the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 7:37-39). Then the people, very impressed by him, began to speak about Him – even today, people speak about him. Some were excited and said, "He is really the prophet" (v. 40). Someone even affirmed, "This man is the Christ!" (v. 41). But others were opposed because, they said, the Messiah does not come from Galilee, but from the seed of David, Bethlehem; and so, without knowing it, they confirmed the identity of Jesus.

The chief priests had sent officers to arrest him, as occurs in dictatorships, but they return empty-handed and say, "No man ever spoke like that!" (v. 45). Here is the voice of truth that resonates in those simple men.

The Word of the Lord, yesterday like today, always causes a division–the word of God always divides–between those who welcome it and those who reject it. Sometimes, it sparks an interior conflict in our hearts; this happens when we perceive the attractiveness, beauty and truth of Jesus' words, but at the same time we reject them because they are challenging, they put us in difficulty, and cost us too much to observe.

Today I came to Naples to proclaim together with you: Jesus is Lord! I do not want to say it alone. I want to hear you say it. (Jesus is Lord!) Once again. (Jesus is Lord!) Nobody speaks like him! He alone has the words of mercy that can heal the wounds of our heart. He alone has the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68).

The Word of Christ is powerful: it does not have the power of the world, but that of God, which is strong in humility, even in weakness. Its power is that of love—that is the power of the Word of God—a love that knows no bounds, a love that makes us love others before ourselves. The Word of Jesus, the Holy Gospel, teaches that true blesseds are the poor in spirit, the non-violent, the meek, those who work for peace and justice. This is the force that changes the world! This is the Word that gives strength and that can change the world. There is no other way to change the world.

The Word of Christ wants to reach everyone, especially those who live in the peripheries of existence, that they may find in him the centre of their lives and the source of hope. And we, who have had the grace to receive this Word of Life—it is a grace to receive the Word of God—we are called to go, to step out of our fences and, with missionary zeal, to bring to everyone the mercy, tenderness and friendship of God. This work belongs to everyone but in a special way to you, priests: bring mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, in the sacraments, in listening, so that the people of God can find in you merciful men, like Jesus.

At the same time, each parish and each ecclesial reality must become a sanctuary for those seeking God and a welcoming home for the poor, the elderly and those in need. To go and to welcome: this is how the heart of Mother Church, and the heart of all her children, beats. Go, welcome. Go, seek. Go, bring love, mercy and tenderness.

When hearts open to the Gospel, the world begins to change and humanity rises again! If we welcome, and live every day, the Word of Jesus, we rise with him.

This Lent, as we walk towards Easter, this message echoes in the Church: that in all the people of God is rekindled the hope of rising with Christ, our Saviour. May the grace of this Easter not come in vain for the people of God in this city! May the grace of the Resurrection be welcomed by each of you, so that Naples is full of the hope of Christ, the Lord! Hope, open to hope. I say to everyone, especially to you young people: open yourselves to the power of the Risen Jesus and you will bear the fruits of new life in this city—the fruits of sharing, reconciliation, service, brotherhood. Allow yourselves to be enveloped, embraced by his mercy, by the mercy of Jesus that only Jesus can bring.

Dear Neapolitans, be open to hope and do not allow hope to be stolen from you! Do not give in to the lure of easy money or dishonest income. This may be bread for today but hunger for tomorrow. It cannot bring you anything. React firmly to organizations that exploit and corrupt the young, the poor and the weak, with the cynical drug trade and other crimes. Do not allow hope to be stolen from you. Do not allow your youth to be exploited by these people.

May corruption and delinquency not disfigure the face of this beautiful city! Moreover, may it not disfigure the joy of your Neapolitan hearts. To criminals and all their accomplices, today as a brother, I repeat: convert to love and justice! Allow yourselves to find the mercy of God! Know that Jesus is looking for you to embrace you, to love you more. With the grace of God, who forgives all, it is possible to return to an honest life. Even the tears of the mothers of Naples, mixed with those of Mary, the heavenly Mother invoked in Piedigrotta and in many churches of Naples, ask this of you. These tears melt the hardness of hearts and lead all back on the path of goodness.

Today, spring begins, and spring brings hope. It is a time of hope. And it is time for redemption for Naples: this is my wish and my prayer for a city that has so much spiritual, cultural and human potential, and above all a great capacity to love. The authorities, institutions, various social realities and citizens, united and in accord, can build a better future. The future of Naples is not to be resigned and to fold in on itself—this is not your future—but the future of Naples is to open itself up with trust to the world. In the mercy of Christ, who makes all things new, this city can find the strength to go forward with hope, strength for so many lives, so many families and communities. To hope is already to resist evil. To hope is to see the world through the eyes and heart of God. To hope is to bet on the mercy of God, who is Father and always forgives and forgives everything.

God, the source of our joy and the reason for our hope, lives in our cities. God lives in Naples. God lives in Naples. May his grace and his blessing sustain you on your journey in faith, in charity and in hope, your good intentions and your plans for moral and social redemption. We have altogether proclaimed Jesus as Lord. I would like everyone to repeat it again, three times. (Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord!) And may Mary accompany you!

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Pope's Address to Detainees in Naples

"Although we did wrong in life, the Lord never tires of showing us the way back and the encounter with him."

VATICAN CITY, March 21, 2015 - Below is a translation of Pope Francis' words to detainees when he had lunch with the prisoners of the Giuseppe Salvia Detention Center of Poggioreale in Naples, during his one-day pastoral visit to Naples and Pompeii today:

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I am happy to be among you on the occasion of my visit to Naples. I would like to thank Claudio and Pasquale who spoke on behalf of everyone. This meeting allows me to express my closeness to you, and I do, bringing the Word and the love of Jesus, Who came to earth to make our hope full and who died on the Cross to save all of us.

Sometimes you feel disappointed, discouraged, abandoned by everyone, but God does not forget his children, never abandons them! He is always at our side, especially in times of trial; The Father is "rich in mercy" (Eph 2,4), who always turns to us with His serene and benevolent gaze, always waiting for us with open arms. This is a certainty that gives comfort and hope, especially in difficult and sad times. Although we did wrong in life, the Lord never tires of showing us the way back and the encounter with him. Jesus' love for each of us is a source of consolation and hope. It is a fundamental certainty for us: nothing can separate us from the love of God! Not even the bars of a prison. The only thing that can separate us from Him is our sin; but if we acknowledge and confess with sincere repentance, that sin just becomes a meeting place Him, because He is mercy.

Dear brothers, I know your painful situations: I receive many letters - some really moving - from prisons around the world. The prisoners are too often kept in conditions unworthy of the human person, and then [they] fail to reintegrate into society. But thank God there are also leaders, chaplains, educators, pastoral workers who know how to stay close to you in the right way. And there are some good experiences and meaningful input. We have to work on this, to develop these positive experiences, they do grow a different attitude in the civil community and also in the community of the Church. At the basis of this commitment is the conviction that love can always transform the human person. And then a place of marginalization, as may be the prison in the negative sense, can then become a place of inclusion and stimulus for the whole society, because it is more just, more attentive to people.

I invite you to live every day, every moment in the presence of God, to whom the future of the world and of man belong. Here is the Christian hope: the future is in God's hands! The story makes sense because it is inhabited by the goodness of God. Therefore, even in the midst of so many problems, even serious ones, we do not lose our hope in the infinite mercy of God and his providence. With this sure hope, let's get ready for Easter now approaching, directing much our lives to the Lord and keeping alive in us the flame of his love.

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