It is time to break the circle of indifference

Pope Francis went to Assisi on Friday 12 November to meet 500 poor people from all over Europe, to pray with them and listen to their testimonies, on the occasion of the 5th World Day of the Poor, which is celebrated on Sunday 14 November. The Holy Father was welcomed by Br Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor and Br Massimo Travascio, Custos of the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Porziuncola, together with the religious and civil authorities of Assisi.

Relaxed and very serene, Pope Francis walked through the square of Santa Maria degli Angeli, stopping to greet many of those present. The pontiff received the pilgrim’s cloak and staff to indicate that all are pilgrims in the places of St Francis and have come here to listen to his word.

Firstly, Francis listened to a French couple with a 4-month-old baby, a Spanish ex-convict from Toledo who, after a history of violence, was helped by a priest, and the testimonies of other poor people. In response, Pope Francis called for the restoration of a voice and dignity to the poor by creating jobs.

“It is time for the poor to have their say because for too long, their demands have gone unheard. It is time to open our eyes to see the state of inequality, so many families experience. It is time to roll up our sleeves to restore dignity by creating jobs. It is time to become indignant again at the reality of starving children, enslaved, shipwrecked, innocent victims of all kinds of violence. It is time for violence against women to stop and for women to be respected and not treated as commodities. It is time to break the circle of indifference and discover the beauty of encounter and dialogue. It is time to meet. It is time to meet. If humanity, if we men and women do not learn to meet each other, we are heading for a very sad end”.

At the end of his speech, Pope Francis prayed that all might experience and bear witness to the serenity and joy that St Francis experienced. “Here at the Portiuncula, St Francis teaches us the joy that comes from looking at those close to us as a travelling companion who understands and supports us, just as we are for him or her”.

The meeting ended with listening to the Word, a prayer of intercession to the Father, the greeting and the final blessing. This was followed by the distribution of gifts to the poor by the Holy Father.  It is worth noting that this trip was the fifth time Pope Francis has been to Assisi.