By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Tuesday urged the city of Rome to use its energies to welcome and integrate people from Italy and the world over by fostering brotherhood and creating opportunities for the civic, cultural, economic and social development of all without fearing goodness and charity.
The Pope made the exhortation in a speech to the authorities and officials of Rome administration during a visit to the Capitoline Hill, the headquarters of Rome Municipality. Pope Francis is the fourth pontiff to visit the Italian capital’s City Hall.
Integrating peoples, differences
Addressing the officials led by Rome Mayor, Virginia Raggi, the Pope noted that during its 2,800-year old rich history, the Eternal City has been able to welcome and integrate different populations and people from all over the world from a vast variety of social and economic categories, without annulling their legitimate differences and without humiliating or crushing their respective characteristics and identities.
By welcoming students, pilgrims, tourists, refugees and migrants, he said, the city has become a “pole of attraction and a hinge” between the continental north and the Mediterranean region and between civil and spiritual powers.
This, he stressed, has been possible because of the power of the Gospel, in mutual respect and collaboration between civil and religious authorities for the good of all and in respect for the dignity of the human person and offering spaces of freedom and participation.
As an enormous treasure chest of spiritual, historical, artistic and institutional treasures, Rome, the Pope pointed out, is home to about three million people who work, study, pray, meet and carry on their personal and family history, and who together are the honor and effort of every administrator, of anyone who works for the common good of the city.
The See of Peter
He noted that Rome’s landmark Capitoline Hill, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Coliseum point to its universal vocation, mission and ideal that need to be proclaimed to all regardless of language and colour.
With the See of the Successor of Saint Peter in Rome, he said, the city is also a spiritual point of reference for the entire Catholic world. The Pope who is the Bishop of Rome, said that the Church in Rome wants to help Romans rediscover their sense of belonging to a special community, which through its network of parishes, schools and charitable institutions, and commitment of voluntary work, collaborates with the civil powers and all citizens to maintain the city’s noblest face and its feelings of Christian love and civic sense.
The Pope encouraged all private citizens, social forces, public institutions, the Catholic Church and other religious communities to place themselves at the service of the good of the city and of the people who live there, especially those on the margins, almost discarded and forgotten or who suffer illnesses, abandonment or loneliness.
Today, the Pope noted, the city’s peripheries and suburbs are witnessing the arrival of migrants from many countries fleeing wars and extreme poverty, who are trying to rebuild their lives in conditions of security and decent living.
Bridges, not walls
Rome, he said, is called to use its energies to welcome and integrate, to transform tensions and problems into opportunities for meeting and growth.
The Pope wished that the city, fertilized by the blood of the Martyrs, draw from its culture, shaped by faith in Christ, the resources of creativity and charity necessary to overcome the fears that risk blocking the initiatives and possible paths. “These,” he said, “could make the city flourish, foster brotherhood and create opportunities for civic, cultural, economic and social development.”
“Rome, the city of bridges, never of walls,” he stressed.
In this regard, the Pope said, the Holy See desires to collaborate ever more and better for the good of the city, in the service of all, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged, for the culture of encounter and for an integral ecology.