Young Adults of St Francis




 Local penitentiary (Isernia)
Saturday, 5 July 2014


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good afternoon,

I thank you for your welcome. And I thank you for your witness of hope, which I heard in the words of your representative. Even in the Governor’s greeting this word struck me: hope. This is the challenge, as I was saying two weeks ago at the prison of Castrovillari: the challenge is social reintegration. And for this, you need an itinerary, a route, whether outside, in the prison, in society, whether inside oneself, in the conscience and in the heart.

To make the journey of reintegration, which all of us must do. Everyone. All of us make mistakes in life. And all of us must ask forgiveness for these mistakes and undertake the journey of reintegration, in order not to make any more. Some make this journey at home, in their own work; others, like you, in a penitentiary. But everyone, everyone…. Whoever says he does not need to make a journey of reintegration is a liar! All of us make mistakes in life and all of us, too, are sinners. And when we go to ask the Lord for forgiveness for our sins, for our mistakes, He always forgives us, He never tires of forgiving. He tells us: “Turn your back on this path, this is not the right one for you”. And He helps us. And this is reintegration, the journey that we all have to make.

What is important is not to stand still. We all know that when water stands still it stagnates. There’s a saying in Spanish that says: “Standing water is the first to go bad”. Do not stand still. We all have to walk, to take a step every day, with the Lord’s help. God is Father, he is mercy, he always loves us. If we seek Him, He welcomes us and forgives us. As I said, He never tires of forgiving. This is the motto of this visit: “God doesn’t tire of forgiving”. He makes us rise and fully restores our dignity. God has a memory, He is not forgetful. God does not forget us, He always remembers. There is a passage in the Bible, from the prophet Isaiah, which says: Even should a mother forget her child — which is impossible — I will never forget you (cf. Is 49:15). And this is true: God thinks about me, God remembers me. I am in God’s memory.

And with this trust, we can walk, day by day. And with this steadfast love which accompanies us, hope will not let us down. With this love hope will never let us down: a steadfast love to go forward with the Lord. Some consider taking a path of punishment, of misdeeds, of sins and just to suffer, suffer, suffer…. It is true, it is true we suffer. As your fellow inmate said, here you suffer. There is suffering inside and also outside, when one sees that one’s own conscience is tainted, sullied, one wants to change it. That suffering which purifies, that fire which purifies gold, is a hope-filled suffering. There is a beautiful thing, when the Lord forgives us he doesn’t say: “I forgive you, get on with it!”. No, He forgives us, he takes us by the hand and he helps us to go forward on this journey of reintegration, in our own personal life and also in social life. He does this with all of us. To think that punishment alone corrects the inner order of a person only through “beating” — I don’t know if it’s said like this — that it is corrected only by punishment, this is not God, this is mistaken. Some people think: “No, no, more severe punishment is needed, more years, more!”. This solves nothing, nothing! To cage people because — pardon the word — for the mere fact that if he is inside we are safe, this serves nothing, it does not help us. The most important thing is what God does for us: he takes us by the hand and helps us to go forward. And this is called hope! And with this hope, with this trust it is possible to walk day by day. And with this steadfast love, which accompanies us, hope never lets us down, truly.

I thank you for the welcome. And I would like to say… this comes to mind now, because I always feel it, even when, every 15 days I phone a prison in Buenos Aires, where there are young people and we talk a little on the ’phone. I’ll tell you something personal. When I meet with one of you, who is in jail, who is moving toward reintegration, but who is imprisoned, I sincerely wonder: why him and not me? I feel this way. It’s a mystery. But beginning with this feeling, with this feeling I accompany you.

Let us pray together to Our Lady, our Mother, that she help us and accompany us. She is Mother. Hail Mary….

And please pray for me! Pray for me!




St. Peter’s Square
Sunday, 6 July 2014


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we find Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). When Jesus says this, he has before him the people he meets every day on the streets of Galilee: very many simple people, the poor, the sick, sinners, those who are marginalized…. These people always followed him to hear his word — a word that gave hope! Jesus’ words always give hope! — and even just to touch a hem of his garment. Jesus himself sought out these tired, worn out crowds like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mt 9:35-36), and he sought them out to proclaim to them the Kingdom of God and to heal many of them in body and spirit. Now he calls them all to himself: “Come to me”, and he promises them relief and rest.

This invitation of Jesus reaches to our day, and extends to the many brothers and sisters oppressed by life’s precarious conditions, by existential and difficult situations and at times lacking valid points of reference. In the poorest countries, but also on the outskirts of the richest countries, there are so many weary people, worn out under the unbearable weight of neglect and indifference. Indifference: human indifference causes the needy so much pain! And worse, the indifference of Christians! On the fringes of society so many men and women are tried by indigence, but also by dissatisfaction with life and by frustration. So many are forced to emigrate from their homeland, risking their lives. Many more, every day, carry the weight of an economic system that exploits human beings, imposing on them an unbearable “yoke”, which the few privileged do not want to bear. To each of these children of the Father in heaven, Jesus repeats: “Come to me, all of you”. But he also says it to those who have everything, but whose heart is empty and without God. Even to them, Jesus addresses this invitation: “Come to me”. Jesus’ invitation is for everyone. But especially for those who suffer the most.

Jesus promises to give rest to everyone, but he also gives us an invitation, which is like a commandment: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). The “yoke” of the Lord consists in taking on the burden of others with fraternal love. Once Christ’s comfort and rest is received, we are called in turn to become rest and comfort for our brothers and sisters, with a docile and humble attitude, in imitation of the Teacher. Docility and humility of heart help us not only to take on the burden of others, but also to keep our personal views, our judgments, our criticism or our indifference from weighing on them.

Let us invoke Mary Most Holy, who welcomes under her mantle all the tired and worn out people, so that through an enlightened faith, witnessed in life, we can offer relief for so many in need of help, of tenderness, of hope.

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, I cordially greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims!

I would like to specially and warmly greet the good people of Molise, who welcomed me yesterday in their beautiful land and also in their heart. It was a warm, hearty welcome: I will never forget it! Thank you very much.

Please, don’t forget to pray for me: I pray for you too.

To all I wish a happy Sunday. Have a good lunch. Arrivederci!



Monday, 7 July 2014


The scene where Peter sees Jesus emerge after a terrible interrogation… Peter whose eyes meet the gaze of Jesus and weeps… This scene comes to my mind as I look at you, and think of so many men and women, boys and girls. I feel the gaze of Jesus and I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons. Today, I am very grateful to you for having travelled so far to come here.

For some time now I have felt in my heart deep pain and suffering. So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained until someone realized that Jesus was looking and others the same… and they set about to sustain that gaze.

And those few who began to weep have touched our conscience for this crime and grave sin. This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation. It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created. Childhood, as we all know, young hearts, so open and trusting, have their own way of understanding the mysteries of God’s love and are eager to grow in the faith. Today the heart of the Church looks into the eyes of Jesus in these boys and girls and wants to weep; she asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left life long scars.

I know that these wounds are a source of deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair. Many of those who have suffered in this way have also sought relief in the path of addiction. Others have experienced difficulties in significant relationships, with parents, spouses and children. Suffering in families has been especially grave, since the damage provoked by abuse affects these vital family relationships.

Some have even had to deal with the terrible tragedy of the death of a loved one by suicide. The deaths of these so beloved children of God weigh upon the heart and my conscience and that of the whole Church. To these families I express my heartfelt love and sorrow. Jesus, tortured and interrogated with passionate hatred, is taken to another place and he looks out. He looks out upon one of his own torturers, the one who denied him, and he makes him weep. Let us implore this grace together with that of making amends.

Sins of clerical sexual abuse against minors have a toxic effect on faith and hope in God. Some of you have held fast to faith, while for others the experience of betrayal and abandonment has led to a weakening of faith in God. Your presence here speaks of the miracle of hope, which prevails against the deepest darkness. Surely it is a sign of God’s mercy that today we have this opportunity to encounter one another, to adore God, to look in one another’s eyes and seek the grace of reconciliation.

Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness.

I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves. This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk.

On the other hand, the courage that you and others have shown by speaking up, by telling the truth, was a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church. There is no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not. All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.

What Jesus says about those who cause scandal applies to all of us: the millstone and the sea (cf. Mt 18:6).

By the same token we will continue to exercise vigilance in priestly formation. I am counting on the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, all minors, whatever religion they belong to, they are little flowers which God looks lovingly upon.

I ask this support so as to help me ensure that we develop better policies and procedures in the universal Church for the protection of minors and for the training of church personnel in implementing those policies and procedures. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that these sins have no place in the Church.

Dear brothers and sisters, because we are all members of God’s family, we are called to live lives shaped by mercy. The Lord Jesus, our Savior, is the supreme example of this; though innocent, he took our sins upon himself on the cross. To be reconciled is the very essence of our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ. By turning back to him, accompanied by our most holy Mother, who stood sorrowing at the foot of the cross, let us seek the grace of reconciliation with the entire people of God. The loving intercession of Our Lady of Tender Mercy is an unfailing source of help in the process of our healing.

You and all those who were abused by clergy are loved by God. I pray that the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed by the embrace of the Child Jesus and that the harm which was done to you will give way to renewed faith and joy.

I am grateful for this meeting. And please pray for me, so that the eyes of my heart will always clearly see the path of merciful love, and that God will grant me the courage to persevere on this path for the good of all children and young people. Jesus comes forth from an unjust trial, from a cruel interrogation and he looks in the eyes of Peter, and Peter weeps. We ask that he look at us and that we allow ourselves to be looked upon and to weep and that he give us the grace to be ashamed, so that, like Peter, forty days later, we can reply: “You know that I love you”; and hear him say: “go back and feed my sheep” – and I would add – “let no wolf enter the sheepfold”.




I would like to extend my greetings to the organizers, the relators and the participants in the “Coloquio México Santa Sede sobre movilidad humana y desarrollo”.

Globalization is a phenomenon which calls us to question particularly one of its principle manifestations, namely: emigration. It is one of the “signs” of the time we live in and which brings us back to the words of Jesus: “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” (Lk 12:57). Notwithstanding the great flow of migrants present on all the Continents and in nearly all Countries, migration is still seen as an emergency, or like a specific and sporadic fact, while it has become a characteristic component and a challenge to our societies.

It is a phenomenon which holds great promise together with many challenges. Many people who are forced into emigration suffer and often die tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be subjected to racist attitudes and xenophobia.

Faced with this situation, I repeat what I stated in the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees: “A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization — all typical of a ‘throwaway culture’ — towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world”.

Furthermore, I am keen to call attention to the tens of thousands of children who emigrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape from poverty and violence: this is a class of migrants who, from Central America and from Mexico, cross the border with the United States of America in extreme conditions, in search of a hope that that most of the time is in vain. They increase day by day. Such a humanitarian emergency demands, first of all, urgent intervention, such that these minors are received and protected. Such measures, however, will not suffice, where they are not accompanied by information policies concerning the dangers of such a journey and, above all, which foster development in their Countries of origin. Finally, to face this challenge, it is necessary to draw the attention of the entire International Community in order that new forms of legal and safe migration be adopted.

I wish full success to the praiseworthy initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Mexico in organizing a colloquium of study and reflection on the great challenge of emigration, and to each of the participants I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 11 July 2014




Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem

Mr. President,

As the number of people killed, wounded, uprooted from their homes, continues to increase in the conflict between Israel and some Palestinian groups, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the voice of reason seems submerged by the blast of arms. Violence will lead nowhere either now or in the future. The perpetration of injustices and the violation of human rights, especially the right to life and to live in peace and security, sow fresh seeds of hatred and resentment. A culture of violence is being consolidated, the fruits of which are destruction and death. In the long run, there can be no winners in the current tragedy, only more suffering. Most of the victims are civilians, who by international humanitarian law, should be protected. The United Nations estimates that approximately seventy percent of Palestinians killed have been innocent civilians. This is just as intolerable as the rockets missiles directed indiscriminately toward civilian targets in Israel. Consciences are paralyzed by a climate of protracted violence, which seeks to impose solution through the annihilation of the other. Demonizing others, however, does not eliminate their rights. Instead, the way to the future, lies in recognizing our common humanity.

In his Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Francis demanded that the present unacceptable situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be brought to an end.(1) “For the good of all,” he said, “there is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security. The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.”(2) The legitimate aspiration to security, on one side, and to decent living conditions, on the other, with access to the normal means of existence like medicines, water and jobs, for example, reflects a fundamental human right, without which peace is very difficult to preserve.

The worsening situation in Gaza is an incessant reminder of the necessity to arrive at a cease-fire immediately and to start negotiating a lasting peace. “Peace will bring countless benefits for the peoples of this region and for the world as a whole,” adds Pope Francis, “and so it must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices.” It becomes a responsibility of the international community to engage in earnest in the pursuit of peace and to help the parties in this horrible conflict reach some understanding in order to stop the violence and look to the future with mutual trust.

Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See reiterates its view that violence never pays. Violence will only lead to more suffering, devastation and death, and will prevent peace from becoming a reality. The strategy of violence can be contagious and become uncontrollable. To combat violence and its detrimental consequences we must avoid becoming accustomed to killing. At a time where brutality is common and human rights violations are ubiquitous, we must not become indifferent but respond positively in order to attenuate the conflict which concerns us all.

The media should report in a fair and unbiased manner the tragedy of all who are suffering because of the conflict, in order to facilitate the development of an impartial dialogue that acknowledges the rights of everyone, respects the just concerns of the international community, and benefits from the solidarity of the international community in supporting a serious effort to attain peace. With an eye to the future, the vicious circle of retribution and retaliation must cease. With violence, men and women will continue to live as enemies and adversaries, but with peace they can live as brothers and sisters.(3)

Thank you, Mr. President.


1) Address of Pope Francis in Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.

2) Ibid.

3) Words of Pope Francis, Vatican Gardens, 8 June 2014.



“When he found one really valuable pearl, he went back and put up for sale all that he had and bought it.” —Matthew 13:46
Many people don’t want to put all their eggs into one basket. So they become “Christians” but still keep one foot in the world. This way, if Jesus isn’t real, at least they haven’t wasted their whole lives for Him. However, if Jesus is the meaning of life, they’re at least church members, without losing the “fun” of the world.

This is the most common approach to Christianity in America. It makes Jesus feel like throwing up (Rv 3:15-16). Jesus died on the cross for us. He poured out every drop of blood and breathed His last breath for us. As we kneel before the crucified Jesus, we realize that it is sacrilegious to give Him anything less than everything.

The kingdom of God is like a buried treasure or a precious pearl (Mt 13:44-46). The cost of discipleship is everything. We may not have much, but we each have an all — and that all is what we must give. The first commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Lk 10:27).

Prayer: Father, “give Your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge Your people and to distinguish right from wrong” (1 Kgs 3:9).
Promise: “We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His decree.” —Rm 8:28
Praise: Praise Jesus, the Good Shepherd, risen Lord, and true God! Alleluia!
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.



“Al encontrar una [perla] de gran valor, fue a vender todo lo que tenía y la compró” (Mateo 13:46).
Muchas personas se muestran reacias a jugarse el todo por el todo, a poner todas las cartas sobre la mesa. Ellos se hacen llamar “cristianos” pero se guardan un “as” en la manga. De modo que, si al final Jesús les falla, por lo menos tienen manera de escapar sin sentir que han malgastado toda la vida por Él. Para muchos, aceptar Jesús es el que da sentido a la vida, al menos obliga a pertenecer a alguna. Sin embargo, esto no siempre implica un cambio en la manera de vivir el día a día.

Esta distancia entre la fe y la vida es muy común en el cristianismo de hoy. Pero esta es una actitud que a Jesús le repugna (Ap 3:15-16). Jesús murió en la cruz por nosotros. Derramó hasta la última gota de sangre y respiró su último aliento por nosotros. Mientras nos arrodillamos ante Jesús crucificado, nos damos cuenta de que es sacrilegio darle menos que todo.

El Reino de Dios es como un tesoro enterrado o una perla preciosa (Mt 13:44-46). Cuesta todo lo que tenemos ser discípulo de Jesús. Tal vez no tenemos mucho, pero todos y cada uno de nosotros al menos tiene algo y es ese algo en su integridad lo que debemos dar. El primer mandamiento es: “Amarás al Señor, tu Dios, con todo tu corazón, con toda tu alma, con todas tus fuerzas y con todo tu espíritu” (Lc 10:27).

Oración: Padre, “concede entonces a tu servidor un corazón comprensivo, para juzgar a tu pueblo, para discernir entre el bien y el mal” (1 Re 3:9).
Promesa: “Sabemos, además, que Dios dispone todas las cosas para el bien de los que lo aman, de aquellos que Él llamó según su designio” (Rom 8:28).
Alabanza: Alabado sea Jesús, el Buen Pastor, Señor resucitado, y Dios verdadero. ¡Aleluya!
El Imprimátur (permiso de publicar) es una declaración que un libro o folleto se considera libre de error doctrinal o moral. No implica acuerdo con contenido, opiniones o afirmaciones expresadas en el mismo.


“When the crop began to mature and yield grain, the weeds made their appearance as well.” —Matthew 13:26
Some of you who are reading this have been serving the Lord in ministry for years. You have prayed and worked long and hard, toiling with all your heart in your desire to bear fruit for your Lord and Master. Perhaps you are beginning to see the good fruits of your efforts as those to whom you have ministered are progressing as disciples, making their own commitments to Jesus, or sharing their faith with others. The crop you have sowed is beginning “to mature and yield grain” (Mt 13:26).

This is the time when people Jesus describes as “the weeds” begin to make their appearance (Mt 13:26). Just when it looks like your efforts will result in a fruitful harvest and in glory to God, people appear within your ministry or community and begin to wantonly consume energy you intended to use to nourish “the wheat,” that is, those bearing fruit as a result of your loving service. Now your “wheat” are not getting “fed” properly because your “weeds” are siphoning off their spiritual food.

Now it looks as if the entire ministry may be shelved under the threat of the weeds. Naturally you want to uproot the weeds. Yet Jesus says to let the weeds grow (Mt 13:30). This seems to make no sense, but God is the Vinegrower (Jn 15:1), and He knows how to produce fruit. Jesus prunes you and the wheat (Jn 15:2), and allows the weeds to consume nourishment meant to sustain you! Yet God has an even higher priority, and it is conversion. He wants the weeds to become wheat. Conversion is costly, inconvenient, and strength-sapping. It also brings great joy in heaven (Lk 15:7).

Prayer: Master, give me Your heart and mind (1 Cor 2:16).
Promise: “Happy the men whose strength You are.” —Ps 84:6
Praise: Walt prayed to St. Ann daily to reconcile a relationship between two of his loved ones that Walt considered irreconcilable. Several years later, Walt rejoiced as the reconciliation was more complete than he could have imagined (see Eph 3:20).
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.



“Cuando creció el trigo y aparecieron las espigas, también apareció la cizaña” (Mateo 13:26).
Algunos de ustedes que están leyendo esto han estado sirviendo al Señor en el ministerio durante años. Ustedes han orado y trabajado largamente y duramente, trabajando con todo su corazón con el deseo de dar frutos para el Señor y Maestro. Tal vez ustedes están comenzando a ver los buenos frutos de sus esfuerzos; a lo mejor aquellos a los que ustedes han ministrado y que están progresando como discípulos, haciendo sus propios compromisos con Jesús, o compartiendo su fe con otros. La cosecha que han sembrado está comenzando “a madurar y producir granos” (Mt 13:26).

Este es el momento cuando la gente que Jesús describe como “la cizaña” empieza a hacer su aparición (Mt 13:26). Justo cuando parece que tus esfuerzos darán como resultado una cosecha fructífera y en la gloria de Dios, personas aparecen dentro de tu ministerio o en la comunidad y empiezan a consumir energía. Esta energía es necesaria para nutrir “el trigo” de aquellos que llevan los frutos como resultado de tu servicio de amor. Ahora tu “trigo” no está recibiendo la “alimentación” adecuada porque tu “cizaña” aprovecha su alimento espiritual.

Pareciera como si todo el ministerio tuviera que ser dejado de lado bajo la amenaza de la cizaña. Naturalmente, tú deseas arrancar la cizaña. Sin embargo, Jesús dice que dejes crecer la maleza (Mt 13:30). Esto parece no tener sentido, pero Dios es el viñador (Jn 15:1), y Él sabe cómo producir fruto. Jesús poda, a ti y al trigo (Jn 15:2), y permite ¡que la cizaña consuma el alimento destinado a nutrirte! Sin embargo, Dios tiene una prioridad aún mayor, y es la conversión. Él quiere que la cizaña se vuelva trigo. La conversión es costosa, inconveniente y mina la fuerza. Esta también trae más alegría en el cielo (Lc 15:7).

Oración: Maestro, dame tu corazón y pensamiento (1Co 2:16).
Promesa: “¡Felices los que encuentran su fuerza en Ti!” (Sal 84:6).
Alabanza: Luis rogó a santa Ana a diario por la reconciliación de la relación entre dos de sus seres queridos que él consideraba inconciliable. Varios años más tarde, Luis se alegró porque la reconciliación fue más completa de lo que podía haber imaginado (Ef 3:20).
El Imprimátur (permiso de publicar) es una declaración que un libro o folleto se considera libre de error doctrinal o moral. No implica acuerdo con contenido, opiniones o afirmaciones expresadas en el mismo.
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