14 September 2020, The Tablet

Pope urges governments to listen to protestors

The Holy Father also expressed his solidarity with the fire at the Moira refugee camp, which has left 13,000 people homeless.

Pope urges governments to listen to protestors

The Pope during the recitation of the Angelus, September 13 2020, Rome
Evandro Inetti/Zuma Press/PA Images

Pope Francis used his Angelus remarks to call for reconciliation and mercy to become “the style of our life”. He specifically extended this request to those protesting injustice and governments around the world.

Drawing on the gospel reading for the day, Matthew 18:21-35, yesterday, the Pope drew attention to the merciful king in that parable, who forgives a servant’s enormous debt when he fails to pay it.

When the servant – who represents, the Pope said, the human person – comes across another servant who owes him only a modest amount, he has his fellow servant thrown into prison. When the king comes to hear of this, the unmerciful servant is punished.

The two different responses to debt depicted in the story demonstrates the difference between the “divine attitude”, the Pope said, and “the human attitude”. Whilst the latter is limited to justice, God’s perspective, as the Holy Father sees it, is “justice pervaded with mercy”. Jesus urges us to open ourselves to the power of mercy and reconciliation because “not everything in life can be resolved by justice”.

“How much suffering,” Francis noted, “how many wounds, how many wars could be avoided if forgiveness and mercy were the style of our life!”. The words of the “Our Father” – “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” – contain a “decisive truth”. “We cannot demand God’s forgiveness for ourselves,” the Pope said, “if we in turn do not grant forgiveness to our neighbour.”

Concluding his remarks, the Pope addressed protest and demonstration movements across the world. These actions “express the growing disappointment” people have regarding “political and social situations” in a number of different countries. Urging protestors to behave in a peaceful manner the Pope urged governments to “listen to the voice of their citizens and welcome their just aspirations”, especially those for basic human rights. 

The Holy Father urged “ecclesial communities” to “do everything possible in favour of dialogue...and reconciliation”, under the direction of their pastors. He also expressed his solidarity with the residents of the Moira refugee camp in Greece, which was razed by a huge fire last week. 13,000 refugees have been left homeless as a result. The Pope, who visited Moira in 2016, reiterated his call for refugees to receive a “humane and dignified” reception in Europe.

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