By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis has invited Peruvians hard hit by El Nino storms and devastating floods to overcome their losses and build a better future by coming together as a community.
The Pope’s words of closeness and encouragement came during Holy Mass celebrated in Trujillo, a coastal town in the north of the country which is still reeling from devastating floods nearly a year ago that caused many victims, toppled hundreds of thousands of homes and caused much devastation and displacement.
You had to face the brunt of the "Nino costero"
In his homily, Pope Francis recalled the floods saying that “Just as the apostles faced the storm on the sea, you had to face the brunt of the “Niño costero” whose painful consequences are still present in so many families, especially those who are not yet able to rebuild their homes”.
“This, he said, is also why I wanted to be here and to pray with you”.
Francis also spoke of other “storms” that he said can hit these coasts, with devastating effects on the lives of the children of these lands.
Other "storms" that prevent the young from building a future
Referring directly to organized violence and contract killings, a problem which is particularly acute in northern Peru, the Pope decried the insecurity that they breed.
He also spoke of the “lack of educational and employment opportunities, especially among young people, which he said, prevents them from building a future with dignity”, and he pointed to the “lack of secure housing for so many families forced to live in highly unstable areas without safe access”.
The value of coming together as a community
To those present, Pope Francis said “you have shown that life’s greatest problems can be confronted when the community comes together “to help one another like true brothers and sisters”.
“I know that, in the time of darkness, when you felt the brunt of the Niño, these lands kept moving forward” the oil of solidarity and generosity stirred you to action, and you went out to meet the Lord with countless concrete gestures of support” he said.
"Fill your lives with the Gospel"
We often wonder about how to face these storms, the Pope continued, or how to help our children pull through in these situations, “I want to tell you that no better way exists than that of the Gospel: it is called Jesus Christ. Fill your lives always with the Gospel”.
Francis concluded his homily invoking the blessing of the Peruvians’ beloved “Lady of the Gate” whose Sanctuary is some seventy kilometres north-east of Trujillo.