Addressing pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the traditional noonday Angelus with him on Sunday, the Holy Father renewed his call for prayerful solidarity with the people of Venezuela, just a few days ahead of the nation’s Independence Day on July 5th.
“I promise my own prayers for this beloved nation [Venezuela] and express my closeness to the families who have lost their children in the streets,” Pope Francis said, referring to the often violent – protests in the country that began in March in the wake of a constitutional crisis and subsequent political stalemate that has yet to be broken.
Nearly one hundred people have been killed in the ongoing civil unrest.
“I call for end to violence and a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis,” the Holy Father said, before imploring the intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto – Patroness of Venezuela – and leading the faithful gathered beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the recitation of the Hail Mary.
Pope Francis used his remarks ahead of the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer to reflect on the essential characteristics of Christian missionary discipleship, which he identified as being bound to Our Lord Jesus Christ and being bearers of Him – ambassadors of Christ, as St. Paul says – who put on Christ and bring Him to others, forsaking themselves and all others and everything else in the world for His sake.
“Not,” explained Pope Francis, “because He wants us to be heartless and ungrateful – not hardly, not at all.”
“On the contrary,” he continued, “because the condition of the disciple requires that one’s relationship with the Master take precedence over all others.”
Departing from his prepared text, the Holy Father said, “Any and every disciple, whether he be a lay man, a lay woman, a priest, a bishop: the relationship [with Christ, the Divine Teacher] takes precedence.”
Pope Francis concluded, saying, “The Virgin Mary felt in her own person what it means to love Jesus, detaching oneself from oneself, giving new meaning to family ties, beginning with faith in Him: may she help us, with her maternal intercession, to be free and cheerful missionaries of the Gospel.”
Source: Vatican Radio