The Vatican

Pope sings to the Mediterranean as "cradle of civilization, life and peace".

During the General Audience on Wednesday, the Holy Father made a plea for the Mediterranean to recover its vocation as "cradle of civilization, of life and of peace". He also recalled that the Gospel of Jesus Christ departed from its eastern shore, and called Europe to hope, even in the face of the "demographic winter".

Francisco Otamendi-September 27, 2023-Reading time: 4 minutes

The Pope celebrates Mass in Marseille, September 23, 2023 ©OSV

After his return from the "Mediterranean Meetings" in Marseille (France), and the brief summary he gave in the Angelus Sunday, the Pope has launched in the General Audience several important messages today at St. Peter's. First of all, "the dream and the shared challenge" that "the Mediterranean regain its vocation as a cradle of civilization, life and peace".

"We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a tomb, or to facilitate war and human trafficking," the Pope exhorted. "Two thousand years ago, from its eastern shore departed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to announce to all peoples that we are children of the one Father who is in heaven, and that we are called to live as brothers and sisters; that God's love is greater than our selfishness, and that with the help of his mercy, a just and peaceful human coexistence is possible."

"Naturally, this does not happen by magic and is not achieved once and for all. It is the fruit of a journey on which every generation is called to travel a stretch, reading the signs of the times in which it lives," Francis added. "We have been touched by this historical period, in which forced migrations have become a sign of the times, indeed, the sign that calls us all to make a fundamental choice: the choice between indifference and fraternity."

The Pope said in his catechesis that "we need a look at the Mediterranean that will help us to instill hope in our society, especially in the new generations. The Marseilles event has presented us with a human and hopeful outlook, capable of referring everything to the primary value of the human person and his or her inviolable dignity. And a look of hope that encourages us to build fraternal relationships and social friendship.

"A more humane world"

In this regard, Francis quoted St. Paul VI in his encyclical Populorum Progressiowhen he encouraged the promotion of "a more humane world for all, where all have to give and receive, without the progress of some being an obstacle to the development of others" (n. 44).

In addition, the Pope referred to the need to "work so that people, in full dignity, can choose to emigrate or not to emigrate," as reported by Omnes. "It is the theme of the Migrants and Refugees Day we have just celebrated. First of all, we must all commit ourselves so that everyone can live in peace, security and prosperity in their own country of origin. This requires personal conversion, social solidarity and concrete commitments on the part of governments at the local and international levels".

And "secondly," the Roman Pontiff pointed out, so that those who cannot remain in their homeland, "may be assured safety during their journey and be welcomed and integrated wherever they arrive."

"European "demographic winter

At the end of his address, Francis referred to Europe. "It is necessary to give hope again to our European societies, especially to the new generations. In fact, how can we welcome others if we do not first have a horizon open to the future? Young people who are poor in hope, closed in their private lives, preoccupied with managing their precariousness, how can they be open to meeting and sharing?" he asked.

The Holy Father alluded to "our societies, sick with individualism, consumerism and empty escapism," which need to open up, oxygenate the soul and spirit, and then they will be able to read the crisis as an opportunity and face it in a positive way". 

"Let us think, for example, of the demographic winter that affects some European societies," Francis added. "This will not be overcome by a "transfer" of immigrants, but when our children will once again find hope in the future and will be able to see it reflected in the faces of their brothers and sisters who have come from far away."

Europe needs "passion and enthusiasm"

This was his message, and his thanks: "Europe needs to find passion and enthusiasm again, and in Marseille I can say that I have found them: in their pastor, Cardinal Aveline, in the priests and consecrated men and women, in the lay faithful committed to charity, in education, in the people of God who showed great warmth at the Mass in the Velodrome Stadium". 

The Pope thanked all of them and the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, "who with his presence has witnessed the attention of the whole of France to the event in Marseille. 

May the Virgin, whom the people of Marseille venerate as Notre Dame de la Garde, accompany the path of the Mediterranean peoplesThe Holy Father, who also went to St. Mary as the Consolation of migrants, concluded by saying: "The Holy Father has always called this region to be a mosaic of civilization and hope".

St. Wenceslaus, "great witness to the faith".

This morning there was a novelty in the Audience, as Czech was added to the usual languages, due to the large number of pilgrims from this country. 

The Pope greeted them with these words: "I cordially greet the pilgrims from the Czech Republic, who have come to Rome on the occasion of the Feast of St. Wenceslas; in particular I greet the Ondášek children's choir. May the example of the principal patron of the Czech nation, who was a great witness to the faith, help you to cherish your spiritual heritage and to pass it on to your children. I bless you and your families, may Jesus Christ be praised!".

The authorFrancisco Otamendi

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