Pardon of Assisi 2018: “Destroy the walls that divide and separate”

From an interview by Riccardo Benotti |

“Today more than ever, the Feast of Pardon invites us to commit ourselves to the lives of all those who suffer in the world. Today’s politicians are driven by the search for a consensus and a populism that threatens to lead this world more and more towards selfishness and closing in on itself. On the other hand, the Lord urges us to return to the source of our faith “. Br. Michael A. Perry, General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor, has just concluded the celebrations for the Assisi Pardon. “The policy of closure is caused by ‘fears’ that are not based on real facts, but on often erroneous interpretations that are likely to generate collective hysteria. This hysteria – he explains – is an induced phenomenon that provokes people and gives them permission to treat the stranger or different no longer as human persons, but as animals or savages “.”

How can a tradition that is over 800 years old still be current?

First, because the Franciscan charism is based on evangelical values, such as simplicity, humility, truth, honesty of life and thought, sharing, forgiveness. The Gospel is forever because it is the living Word that enlightens human beings. Moreover, St. Francis embraced principles that are for every age: respect for others and for creation, fellowship, welcome, care of others, friendliness, tenderness, the way of seeing others as sons and daughters of God, as images of God.

It seems that there is a lessening of the sense of sin and the practice of confession (the sacrament of reconciliation) in our society.  So why do so many people feel the desire to ask for pardon and forgiveness?

There is always goodness in the human heart. It always holds a seed of love and above it has a conscience that tells it what is just and what is the right think to do or to think and what is wrong, unjust, sinful. Sometimes there is the idea that everything is sinful and other times, however, that nothing is a sin. Still, we know thatsin is a lack of love for God and for people.

Then there are many who perceive this lack and seek confident forgiveness in God who is mercy. The practice of confession is a gesture of humility in which the person recognizes who she or he truly is before God.

There are those who claim the Assisi Pardon and such practices are simply the fruit of a popular religiosity that does not transform people’s lives …

The Church and Pope Francis recognize signs of true faith in popular devotions.

It is up to the organizers to make sure that that religiosity or devotion moves the practitioners to the truth of God and the Gospel.

Regarding the life transformation, it is enough to ask the people who have participated several times and have experienced the grace of pardon.

Who are the pilgrims asking for pardon?

Usually they are people who walk a spiritual path and have the desire to grow and mature in the faith and in works where love is lived concretely.

Do you have any particular memories linked to the Assisi Pardon?

Assisi has become a reference in the world for interreligious dialogue, for prayer for peace, for the search for pardon, forgiveness and reconciliation. Usually in the celebration of the Assisi Pardon, people overcome certain difficulties in interpersonal relationships.

I have often seen people hugging each other and asking for mutual forgiveness.

Today people need this type of forgiveness that becomes a bridge for drawing near to each other and destroys the walls that divide and separate us.


The original text (in Italian) may be read here: