“A special greeting to the Pope John XXIII Community, founded by the Servant of God Father Oreste Benzi, which will promote next Friday on the streets of central Rome a ‘Via Crucis’ of solidarity and prayer for women victims of trafficking”. Those are the words with which Pope Francis greets the members of the association founded by Don Benzi in St. Peter’s Square crowded with faithful for the customary Angelus prayer, on the occasion of Via Crucis, organized by the Community of Pope John XXIII, focused on the topic of “crucified” women, victims of many abuses. Bergoglio focuses his reflection on the recent apostolic journey to Mexico, a journey that reads the Second Sunday of Lent, that of the Transfiguration of Jesus, in the light of the Gospel.
ANGELUS FULL TEXT
“Dear brothers and sisters, good morning! The second Sunday of Lent presents us with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus: immersed in prayer on a high mountain, He reveals the light of His divine glory in front of the three disciples Peter, James, and John, foreshadowing His Resurrection.
The apostolic journey I made in recent days to Mexico was a transfiguration experience. The Lord has shown us the light of His glory through the body of His Church, His holy people who live in that land. A body which has been wounded so often, a people which has been oppressed, despised, violated in its dignity so often. In fact, the different encounters lived in Mexico were full of light: the light of faith that transforms the faces and lights up the path.
The “spiritual center of gravity” of my pilgrimage was the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Remaining silent in front of the image of the Mother was what I intended to do in the first place. And I thank God who has granted this occasion to me. I beheld Her, and let Her – the One in whose eyes are etched the eyes of all of her children, and collects the pains of violence, kidnappings, killings, abuses at the expense of so many poor people, of many women – look at me. Guadalupe is the most visited Marian shrine in the world. From every corner of America people go to pray where the Virgen Morenita appeared to the Indian Saint Juan Diego, giving origin to the evangelization of the continent and to its new civilization, an encounter between different cultures.
And this is precisely the inheritance that the Lord has given to Mexico: cherish the richness of diversity and, at the same time, show the harmony of the common faith, a sincere and strong faith, accompanied by a great charge of vitality and humanity. Like my predecessors, I went to confirm the faith of the Mexican people, but at the same time to be confirmed; I gathered this gift with both hands for the sake of the universal Church.
An example of what I am saying are families: Mexican families which welcomed me with joy as a messenger of Christ, Shepherd of the whole Church; but in their turn they have given me clear and strong evidence, lived testimonies of faith, a faith that transforms life for the edification of all the Christian families of the world. And the same can be said about young people, consecrated people, priests, workers, and prisoners.
So, I thank the Lord and the Virgin of Guadalupe for the gift of this pilgrimage. I also thank the President of Mexico and other civil authorities for their warm welcome; I warmly thank my Brothers, and all the people who have collaborated in so many ways.
We lift special praise to the Holy Trinity for having wanted a meeting to happen on this occasion in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the beloved brother Kirill; a meeting that had been much desired also by my Predecessors. This event is a prophetic light of Resurrection, of which the world today has more need than ever. The Holy Mother of God will continue to guide us on the path of unity.”
After the Angelus: “Dear brothers and sisters, an international conference entitled “For a world without the death penalty”, promoted by the Sant’Egidio Community, will take place in Rome tomorrow. I hope that this symposium will give a new impetus to the commitment for the abolition of capital punishment. A sign of hope is the development, in public opinion, of a growing opposition to the death penalty even as a legitimate social defense tool. Indeed, modern societies have the ability to deal with crime without depriving the one who has committed a crime of the chance to ever redeem himself. The problem must be seen in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and God’s plan for man and society. The commandment “You shall not kill” has absolute value and covers both the innocent and the culprit.
The special Jubilee of Mercy is a propitious occasion to promote in the world ever more mature forms of respect for life and for the dignity of every person. A criminal has the inviolable right to life too because it is a gift from God. I appeal to the conscience of the rulers, so as to achieve an international consensus for the abolition of death penalty. And I invite all those of them who are Catholics to make a courageous and exemplary gesture: execute no sentences during this Holy Year of Mercy.
All Christians and people of good will are called today to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty, but also in order to improve prison conditions, in respect of human dignity of people deprived of liberty.
My heartfelt greetings go to the families, church groups, associations and to all the pilgrims in Rome, Italy and other countries.
I greet the faithful of Sevilla, Cadiz, Ceuta (Spain) and those of Trieste, Corato, Turin. Special greetings for the Pope John XXIII Community, founded by the Servant of God Father Oreste Benzi, who next Friday will promote on the streets of central Rome a “Via Crucis” of solidarity and prayer for women victims of trafficking.
Lent is a good time to make a journey of conversion with mercy at the core of it. Therefore, today, I thought about giving you, people who are here in the square, a “spiritual medicine” called Misericordina. A small box with a Rosary and a small image of the Merciful Jesus inside of it. Now volunteers will distribute them, among whom there are poor and homeless people, as well as refugees and religious men. Accept this gift as a spiritual help to spread – especially during this year of mercy – love, forgiveness, and brotherhood.
I wish you all a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and good-bye!”