“Let us pray for the victims” of the explosions in Beirut as well as Lebanon said the pontiff, “so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At this week’s General Audience, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for Lebanon, following the explosions that hit Beirut yesterday, adding that country had to overcome a crisis with the participation of “all its social, political and religious elements”. The pontiff also announced a series of catechises dedicated to the pandemic, above all, the “social ills” it brought to the fore.
Today’s audience followed a summer break during the month of July. As he has done since the start of the pandemic, the Holy Father spoke from the library of the Apostolic Palace. In his address, Francis cited the Gospel story about the healing of the paralytic man (Mk 2:1-12) in Capernaum. “The pandemic continues to cause deep wounds,’ he said, “exposing our vulnerability. On every continent there are many who have died, many are ill. Many people and many families are living a time of uncertainty because of socio-economic problems which especially affect the poorest.
“Thus, we must keep our gaze firmly fixed on Jesus (Heb 12:2): in the midst of this pandemic, our eyes on Jesus; and with this faith embrace the hope of the Kingdom of God that Jesus Himself brings us (Mk 1:5; Mt 4:17; CCC 2816). A Kingdom of healing and of salvation that is already present in our midst (Lk 10:11). A Kingdom of justice and of peace that is manifested through works of charity, which in their turn increase hope and strengthen faith (1 Cor 13:13).
“Within the Christian tradition, faith, hope and charity are much more than feelings or attitudes. They are virtues infused in us through the grace of the Holy Spirit (see CCC, 1812, 1813): gifts that heal us and that make us healers, gifts that open us to new horizons, even while we are navigating the difficult waters of our time.
“Renewed contact with the Gospel of faith, of hope and of love invites us to assume a creative and renewed spirit. In this way, we will be able to transform the roots of our physical, spiritual and social infirmities and the destructive practices that separate us from each other, threatening the human family and our planet.”
“And so we can ask ourselves: today, in what way can we help heal our world? As disciples of the Lord Jesus, who is the physician of our souls and bodies, we are called to continue “His work, work of healing and salvation” (CCC, 1421) in a physical, social and spiritual sense."
“Although the Church administers Christ’s healing grace through the Sacraments, and although she provides healthcare services in the remotest corners of the planet, she is not an expert in the prevention or the cure of the pandemic. She helps with the sick, but she is not an expert. Neither does she give specific socio-political pointers (see St Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima adveniens, 14 May 1971, no. 4).
“This is the job of political and social leaders. Nevertheless, over the centuries, and by the light of the Gospel, the Church has developed several social principles which are fundamental (see The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 160-208), principles that can help us move forward in preparing the future that we need.
“I cite the main ones which are closely connected: the principle of the dignity of the person, the principle of the common good, the principle of the preferential option for the poor, the principle of the universal destination of goods, the principle of the solidarity, of subsidiarity, the principle of the care for our common home. These principles help the leaders, those responsible for society, to foster growth and also, as in the case of the pandemic, the healing of the personal and social fabric.
“In the next few weeks, I invite you to tackle together the pressing questions that the pandemic has brought to the fore, social ills above all. And we will do it in the light of the Gospel, of the theological virtues and of the principles of the Church’s social doctrine. We will explore together how our Catholic social tradition can help the human family heal this world that suffers from serious illnesses. It is my desire that everyone reflect and work together, as followers of Jesus who heals, to construct a better world, full of hope for future generations (see Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium, 24, November 2013, no. 183).”
“Yesterday in Beirut, near the port, there were massive explosions causing dozens of deaths, wounding thousands and causing serious destruction,” Francis said at the end of the audience.
“Let us pray for the victims, for their families, let us pray for Lebanon so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing.”