By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis has encouraged members of the Sant’Egidio Community to continue courageously in their mission to build bridges, keep dialogue open, stay close to the poor and the discarded, and pray for peace.
The Pope’s words came on Sunday afternoon during a visit to the headquarters in Rome of the Community that is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
During a celebration of the Liturgy of the Word inside the beautiful Santa Maria in Trastevere Basilica which the lay organization uses to shelter the homeless and offer Christmas lunch to the poor, the Pope spoke with gratitude of the work carried out by the world-wide network of Sant’Egidio volunteers and its mission to broker peace and accompany the poor.
Prayer, Poverty, Peace
“Prayer, poverty and peace” are the three P’s upon which the Community rests, he said, and he thanked its members for their wish to continue to look to the future with a sense of responsibility in a time that he described as “a time of fear before the vast dimensions of globalization: fears that are often focused on the stranger, on he who is different, poor… as if he were an enemy.”
Francis thanked Sant’Egidio members for praying for peace and for working for peace, and he highlighted the predicament of the Syrian people, some of whom have been safely brought to Europe where they have found welcome and support thanks to the ‘humanitarian corridors’ the Community has organized in collaboration with other faith-based organizations.
Globalization of solidarity
Reflecting on the fact that the only sustainable future for a global world is one where people can live together in peace, the Pope called on the Sant’Egidio Community to continue to help foster a ‘globalization of solidarity and of the spirit’ by building bridges, keeping dialogue open and favouring encounter.
“Today, in an uncertain world, with so many ongoing wars”, the Pope told Sant’Egidio members to courageously push forward with their programmes for children in the peripheries, with their ‘Schools of Peace’, staying close to the elderly who are so often discarded, and continuing to open ‘humanitarian corridors’ for those fleeing war and hunger.
“The poor are your treasure” he said.