By Devin Watkins
Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent a message to 2021 Rimini Meeting on Thursday on behalf of Pope Francis.
The Pope extended his greetings to participants in the “Meeting for Friendship amongst Peoples” taking place in the Italian city of Rimini on 20-25 August.
He also expressed his joy that the meeting is once again being held in-person after last year’s Covid-related online hiatus.
Courage to say ‘I’
Pope Francis focused his message on the 42nd meeting’s theme: “The courage to say ‘I’”, a saying from Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.
He said the saying is helpful as the world seeks “to start off again on the right foot, so as not to waste the opportunity provided by the crisis of the pandemic.”
Starting again, he added, requires everyone to have the courage to take risks, calling it an act of freedom.
“Despite imposing physical distancing, the pandemic has placed the person, the “I” of each person, back at the centre, in many cases provoking a reawakening of fundamental questions about the meaning of existence and the utility of living that had been dormant or, worse still, censored for too long."
Person at heart of society
Pope Francis said the pandemic has reminded people of the need for personal responsibility, to which many have given witness in various situations.
“Faced with sickness and pain, faced with the emergence of a need, many people unflinchingly said: 'Here I am.'”
The Pope added that people are at the heart of society, and that without the person, society is merely a casual aggregation of beings. The end result of this situation would be a society based solely on self-centeredness and greed.
Responsibility, not egoism
In the wake of the pandemic, said Pope Francis, all people must take up their own responsibilities in order to serve others, especially public authorities.
“What is needed above all is someone who has the courage to say “I” with responsibility and not with selfishness, communicating with his or her own life that the day can begin with reliable hope.”
Courage in Christ
However, noted the Pope, it takes courage to say ‘I’ responsibly, and only in the power of the Holy Spirit can we find our true compass.
“The filial relationship with the eternal Father, which is made present in persons reached and changed by Christ, gives consistency to the self, freeing it from fear and opening it to the world with a positive attitude.”
St. Peter offers a prime example, said Pope Francis. He was a fearful man—a coward even—until he was filled with the Holy Spirit and learned to speak courageously about Jesus to his contemporaries.
“The profound reason for the courage of the Christian is Christ. It is the Risen Lord who is our security, who makes us experience profound peace even in the midst of life’s storms.”
Joy of the Gospel
The Pope concluded his message urging participants in the Rimini friendship meeting to be filled with the joy of the Gospel.
He called them to be courageous in discovering new ways of living the faith, while including all people, “because the horizon of faith in Christ is the entire world.”