By ZENIT Staff

On September 25, 2020, the Holy Father Francis received the members of the Circolo San Pietro in the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

We publish below the speech that the Pope addressed to those present during the meeting:

Address of the Holy Father

Dear members of the Circolo San Pietro, welcome!

I thank the new President of the Association, Marquis Niccolò Sacchetti, for the kind words he addressed to me, and I wish him well for this new position.

Your motto is: “Prayer – Action – Sacrifice”. These words represent the three cardinal principles on which the life of the Sodality is based. In our meeting last year, I focused my reflection on the first one: prayer (cf. Address to the members of the Circolo San Pietro , 19 February 2019). This year, however, I would like to focus on action .

The pandemic, with the need for interpersonal distancing, has asked you to rethink the concrete modalities of the charitable works that you carry out in the ordinary for the poor of Rome. The need to respond to the urgencies of many families, who found themselves in economic hardship overnight, was added to the needs of the people who are usually served. And do not be frightened: there will be more and more and more because the effects of the pandemic will be terrible.

An exceptional situation cannot be given a usual answer, but a new, different reaction is required. To do this it is necessary to have a heart that knows how to “see” the wounds of society and creative hands in active charity. A heart that sees and hands that do. These two elements are important so that a charitable action can always be fruitful.

First of all, it is urgent to identify new forms of poverty in the rapidly changing city. Poverty usually has modesty: you have to go and find out where it is… The new forms of poverty: you know it well, there are many: material poverty, human poverty, social poverty. We have the task of seeing them with the eyes of the heart. It is necessary to know how to look at human wounds with the heart to “take the life of the other to heart”. So this is no longer just a stranger in need of help but, first of all, a brother, a brother begging for love. And only when we take someone to heart can we respond to this expectation. It is the experience of mercy: miseri-cor-dare , give the heart to the poor.

Our world, as St. John Paul II observed forty years ago, “seems to leave no room for mercy” (Enc. Dives in misericordia , 2). Each of us is called to reverse course. And this is possible if we allow ourselves to be touched personally by the power of God’s mercy. The privileged place to have this experience is the sacrament of Reconciliation. In presenting our miseries to the Lord, we are surrounded by the Father’s mercy. And it is this mercy that we are called to live and give. It always comes from God, for us and for others.

After seeing the plagues of the city in which we live, mercy invites us to have “imagination” in our hands. That’s what you have done in this pandemic time, and a lot! Having accepted the challenge of responding to a concrete situation, you have been able to adapt your service to the new needs imposed by the virus. I also like to remember a small-big gesture that the young group of the Club made towards the older members: a round of phone calls to see if everything was going well and to make them a little company. This is the fantasy of mercy.

I encourage you to continue with commitment and joy in your works of charity, always attentive and ready to respond boldly to the needs of the poor. Do not tire of asking the Holy Spirit for this grace in personal and community prayer.

I thank you because you are a concrete expression of the Pope’s charity who takes care of the poverty of Rome. Of the poor and poverty. And I am grateful to you for the Pence of St. Peter that every year you collect in the churches of the city and that you offer me today.

I entrust you, your family members, and all the people who daily attend to Mary, Salus Populi Romani, and to the intercession of the patron saints of Rome Peter and Paul. And I ask you to continue praying for me. Thank you.

[01108-EN.02] [Original text: Italian]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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