In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis urges Catholics to dispel the darkness lurking in society, and says the Church cannot abandon her mission of evangelisation and service.
Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ call in the day’s Gospel (Mt 5:13-16) for His disciples to be salt and light.
Jesus’ use of symbolic language, said the Pope, lays out criteria for how the Lord’s disciples are to live their mission in the world.
Beginning with the metaphor of salt, he said it gives flavour and preserves food from spoiling.
So, said the Pope, “the disciple is therefore called to keep society away from the dangers and corrosive elements that pollute people’s lives.”
Christians do this by resisting sin and moral degradation, as well as by bearing witness to honesty and solidarity. He also warned of several temptations to be on guard against, including careerism, power, and wealth.
Even when we fall, said Pope Francis, being salt means starting afresh every day “with courage and patience,” seeking “dialogue and encounter with others.”
Being salt also means not seeking approval or praise, but being faithful to Jesus’ teaching to serve our brothers and sisters in humility.
“This attitude is greatly needed!” the Pope exclaimed.
Turning to the second image, Pope Francis said light “dispels darkness and allows us to see.”
Jesus, he said, has already dispelled the darkness of sin, though some shadows “still remain in the world and within individuals.”
“It is the Christian’s task to dispel it further by making Christ’s light shine among others and by proclaiming His Gospel,” he said.
We can emanate the Lord’s light through our words, but especially through our good deeds, directing others “to God so they can experience His goodness and mercy.”
“A disciple of Jesus is light when he or she knows how to live their faith outside narrow spaces, helping to eliminate prejudices, slander, and bringing the light of truth into situations tainted by hypocrisy and lies.”
Pope Francis said Jesus is urging us to live our faith in the world, despite the headwinds of conflict and sin.
The Church, he said, must overcome violence, injustice, and oppression, and “cannot abandon her mission of evangelisation and service.”
“The Church gives herself with generosity and tenderness on behalf of the least and the poor. She listens to the cry of those in last place and the excluded, because she is aware that she is a pilgrim community called to extend throughout history the saving presence of Jesus Christ.”
Before beginning the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis concluded his remarks asking that the Blessed Virgin “help us to be salt and light in the world, bringing to everyone – in life and word – the Good News of God’s love.”
Pope urges healthy use of technology to prevent human trafficking
Following the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, Pope Francis says people must be educated about the healthy use of technology, with studies showing that criminal organisations increasingly use the internet to lure victims.
The Church’s efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking on Saturday – the feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, patron of the scourge’s victims – spilled over into Sunday.
Pope Francis recalled the initiative in his Angelus address to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square.
He spoke both about providing healing for those who have already fallen victim to this form of modern-day slavery, and about the need for prevention.
“To heal this scourge – because it is truly a scourge – which exploits the weakest, the commitment of all is needed: institutions, associations, as well as educational agencies,” he said.
In his appeal on Sunday, Pope Francis also said education is key to preventing people from falling into human trafficking in the first place.
“I would like to recall that various studies have shown that criminal organisations are increasingly using modern means of communication to lure victims through deception,” he said.
So, he added, the Church needs to educate people “about the healthy use of technology,” while at the same time “reminding the providers of online services about their responsibilities.”
Pope Francis renews ‘heartfelt’ appeal for Syria
Pope Francis launches a renewed appeal for the international community to protect the many people suffering in north-western Syria, where a government offensive has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe.
“Painful reports are still emerging from north-western Syria, particularly regarding the plight of so many women and children, as well as of people forced to flee because of a military escalation.”
Pope Francis expressed his concern for Syrians in Idlib province at the Angelus prayer on Sunday.
He also appealed to the international community and to all parties involved to “make use of diplomatic channels, dialogue, and negotiation” to end the conflict and “to safeguard the lives and welfare of civilians.”
The Pope then invited everyone to pray for “beloved and martyred Syria”.
The Pope’s latest appeal follows a slew of other initiatives he has launched since Syria’s civil war broke out in March 2011.
Most recently, he wrote a letter to President Bashar Hafez al-Assad, which was hand-delivered by Cardinal Peter Turkson in late June 2019.
In it, the Pope called for the protection of civilian life, an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib province, concrete initiatives for a safe return of displaced persons, the release of detainees and access for families to information regarding their loved ones, and humane conditions for political prisoners.
He also asked the Syrian president to restart peace talks and to dialogue with rebel leaders.
Vatican News and Devin Watkins – Pope at Angelus: Church hears the cry of marginalized and poor
Vatican News and Devin Watkins – Pope urges healthy use of technology to prevent human trafficking
Vatican News and Devin Watkins – Pope Francis renews ‘heartfelt’ appeal for Syria