Francis’ strong anti-mafia warning during the mass held at Piana di Sibari “No to the ‘ndrangheta, they adore money and have contempt for good”
REPORTING FROM CASSANO JONIO (CS)
“The mafia is not in communion with God, they are excommunicated”. Francesco bellows out: “The ‘ndrangheta is this: adoration of evil and contempt for the common good. This evil must be fought, distanced, we must tell them ‘no’. The Church which is so committed to educating consciences, must always expend itself even more so that good can prevail. Our young people ask this of us. Our children, in need of hope. Faith can help us meet these needs”. Even in these “moments of difficulty”, evil will not have the last word, so “do not allow them to steal you hope”, encourages the Pope. And “for this faith, we renounce Satan and all his temptations; we renounce the idols of money, vanity, pride and power”.
In Calabria, a region plagued by unemployment and organised crime, Francis bellows out a cry of hope and encourages the faithful to oppose “the evil, injustice, violence with the power of the good, the true, and the beautiful”. A tangible sign of hope is the Policoro Project, “for young people who want to get involved and create job opportunities for themselves and others. You, dear youngsters, do not let them steal your hope”. “By loving Jesus in your hearts and standing by Him you will know how to oppose evil, injustice and violence with the power of good, truth and beauty”.
The bishop of Cassano Jonio and secretary of the CEI ensured him that “the Calabrian Church is committed to awakening the public conscience to organised crime” because “crime feeds on sleeping consciences”. On the way from Cassano all’Jonio towards Marina di Sibari, where the Pope held mass in a crowded clearing, Francis made time for a brief stop outside of the parochial church of San Giuseppe, in Lattughelle, where on 3 March this year, the diocesan priest, father Lazzaro Longobardi, was murdered.
Then at the Piana di Sibari, the Pontiff presided at the Eucharist celebration, concelebrated by the bishops of Calabria and 207 priests. “On the feast of Corpus Domini, we celebrate Jesus “living bread that came down from heaven”, food for our hunger for eternal life, strength for our journey – announced Francis in the homily -. I thank the Lord, who today allows me to celebrate Corpus Domini with you, brothers and sisters of this Church, which is in Cassano allo Jonio. Today’s feast is that on which the Church praises the Lord for the gift of the Eucharist. While on Holy Thursday, we recall its institution at the Last Supper, today thanksgiving and adoration predominate. And, in fact, it is tradition on this day to have the procession with the Blessed Sacrament. To adore Jesus Eucharist and to walk with him. These are the two inseparable aspects of today’s feast, two aspects that mark the entire life of the Christian people: a people that adores God and walks with him”. Pope Bergoglio, stressed that “these are the two inseparable aspects of today’s feast, two aspects that mark the entire life of the Christian people: a people that adores God and walks with him”. Infact, “we are a people who adores God. We adore God, who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave himself for us, offered himself on the cross to expiate our sins and by the power of this love he rose from death and lives in his Church”.
Therefore “We have no other God than this and today we confess this with our gaze turned to Corpus Domini, to the Sacrament of the altar”. And “we, Christians, do not want to adore anything or anyone in this world except Jesus Christ, who is present in the Holy Eucharist”.
He added “perhaps we do not always realize what this means in all its depth, the consequences our profession of faith has or should have. Today we ask the Lord to enlighten us and to convert us, so that we truly adore only him and we renounce evil in all its forms”. But “our faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, in the consecrated bread and wine, is authentic if we commit to follow him and to walk with him, seeking to put into practice his commandment which he gave to the disciples at the Last Supper: ‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another’. A people who adores God in the Eucharist is a people who walks in charity”.
So “Today, as bishop of Rome, I am here to confirm you not only in faith but also in charity, to accompany you and to encourage you in your journey with Jesus Charity. I want to express my support to the bishop, the priests and the deacons of this Church, and also of the Eparchy of Lungro, rich in its Greek-Byzantine tradition. But I extend it to all the pastors and faithful of the Church in Calabria, courageously committed to evangelization and to promoting lifestyles and initiatives which put at the centre the needs of the poor.
He extends his support also to “the civil authorities who seek to live political and administrative commitment for what it is—a service to the common good”. In fact, “thank God, there are many signs of hope in your families, parishes, associations and ecclesial movements. The Lord Jesus does not cease to inspire acts of charity in his people who journey”.
The open area of Sibari transformed as the hours passed into a sea of colours. Looking down on the crowds you could see thousands of sun parasols that coloured the various areas of the plain. The temperature in the afternoon exceed 40 degrees and volunteers from the Civil Protection department handed out more and more water to the pilgrims. The dozen fountains installed in the last few days around the perimeter of the event area were also inundated. Several ambulances waited at the edge of the crowds, ready to help anyone who felt unwell in the heat. On the plain of Sibari, every sector recorded maximum capacity as the hour of the mass held by Pope Francis drew near. The state police, Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza were impressive as they monitored the area. Journalists from dozens of Italian and foreign news channels broadcast the event live.
Queues of traffic 10 kilometres long formed on the road from Cassano to Sibari. The cars were in long columns, waiting to access the car parks outside of the event area. Many pilgrims decided to walk along the main road to reach the plain sooner. A joyful crowd welcomed the Pope on his arrival at the Piana di Sibari, half an hour ahead of schedule. 100,000 passes were distributed, 30,000 chairs, 260 eco-toilets with 30 for the disabled, and 6 large screens were been installed for the service.