2022 Rimini meeting themed "A passion for the person" 2022 Rimini meeting themed "A passion for the person" 

Pope to Rimini meeting: Spread in the world a passion for the person

Pope Francis invites the faithful to collaborate on the path of promoting friendship among peoples and to spread a passion for the person, in his message to the 43rd Meeting of Friendship Among Peoples, taking place from 20 - 25 August.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has conveyed Pope Francis greetings and closeness to Bishop Francesco Lambiasi of Rimini, on the occasion of the 43rd Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples holding from 20-25 August.

Every year since 1980, this Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples takes place in the northern Italian city of Rimini in the month of August. The theme for the 2022 meeting is “A passion for the person.”

In the message sent on Friday, the Pope noted that on the centenary of the birth of the Servant of God Luigi Guissani, the organizers of the Meeting intend to remember his apostolic zeal which prompted him to meet and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to so many people.

The fragility of our time

Reflecting on the fragility of the times in which we live, the Pope said that sometimes it seems like history has turned its back on the gaze of Christ on humankind and we can feel that “there is no possibility of redemption, a hand that lifts you up, an embrace that saves you, forgives you…”

He said that this is the most distressing aspect of the experience of many who went through loneliness during the pandemic or those who have had to abandon everything to escape the violence of war.

As a remedy, the Holy Father pointed at the parable of the Good Samaritan, which today shows that people are waiting for the Samaritan to come to their aid, take care of them and bring them to shelter.

The Good Samaritan

The Gospel illustrates the Good Samaritan as a “model of unconditional passion for every brother and sister one encounters along the way,” said the Pope, adding that the Samaritan’s example resonates with the theme of the Meeting.

“It is not just about generosity, of which some have more and others less,” but rather Jesus puts us before the deep roots of the gesture of the Samaritan, which Pope Francis described as “recognizing Christ Himself in every abandoned or excluded brother or sister.”

So, “it is this passion of Christ for the destiny of each creature that must animate the believer's gaze toward everyone,” said the Pope, “a gratuitous love, without measure and without calculation.”

However, in a world where selfishness and partisan interests seem to dictate the agenda in the lives of individuals and nations, “how is it possible to look at those around us as a good to be respected, protected and cared for?” the Pope asked. “How is it possible to bridge the distance that separates one from another?”

Road to fraternity

“The road to fraternity is not drawn on clouds, it crosses the many spiritual deserts present in our societies,” the Pope affirmed.

As Benedict XVI said, in the desert, “we rediscover the value of what is essential for living... And in the desert, people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive.”

Meanwhile, Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium (199), notes that “Our commitment does not consist exclusively in activities or programmes of promotion and assistance.” Rather, “what the Holy Spirit mobilizes is not an unruly activism, but above all an attentiveness which considers the other in a certain sense as one with ourselves. This loving attentiveness is the beginning of a true concern for their person which inspires me effectively to seek their good.”

Encounter with others, social friendship

The Holy Father underlined that “a person cannot make the journey of self-discovery alone; the encounter with the other is essential.”

In this regard, the Good Samaritan shows us that our existence is intimately connected to that of others and that relationship with the other is a condition for becoming fully ourselves and for bearing fruit.

By giving us life, the Pope added, “God has in some way given us himself so that we, in turn, give ourselves to others,” because “human beings are so made that they cannot live, develop and find fulfillment except in the sincere gift of self to others.”

More so, the fruit of those who, imitating Jesus, make a gift of themselves to others is “a social friendship that excludes no one and a fraternity that is open to all” and an embrace that breaks down walls and goes out to meet the other in the awareness that everyone is valuable regardless of the situation he or she may be in.

It is this social friendship that believers are invited to nurture with their witness, because “an evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others” (Evangelii Gaudium, 24).

Pope’s call

Pope Francis, thus, invited all Christians to this historic task, for the good of all, in the certainty that “the source of the dignity of every human being and the possibility of universal fraternity is the Gospel of Jesus embodied in the life of the Christian community.”

Echoing his Address at the Ecumenical Meeting in Latvia in 2018, he stressed that “if the music of the Gospel ceases to resonate in our very being, we will lose the joy born of compassion, the tender love born of trust, the capacity for reconciliation” that has its source in knowing how to forgive each other. “If the music of the Gospel ceases to sound in our homes, our public squares, our workplaces, our political and financial life, then we will no longer hear the strains that challenge us to defend the dignity of every man and woman.”

The Holy Father, in conclusion, expressed hope that the organizers and participants at the 2022 Rimini Meeting will accept this call with willing hearts, and continue to collaborate with the universal Church on the path of friendship among peoples, while spreading in the world a passion for the person.

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19 August 2022, 12:10