Pope Francis: “Encounter must become our greatest desire”
By Joseph Tulloch
The annual Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church is underway in Verona, northern Italy.
Pope Francis on Thursday addressed the conference, which is being held from the 24th to the 27th November, and spoke of the “grim” situation of the world today, urging that the way forward is “trust” and “encounter”.
The urgent need to build trust
The Pope began his address by noting that “Building trust: The beauty of encounter”, the theme of this year’s festival, is today more relevant than ever before.
“We live in a season of great conflicts that seem to negate that attitude of trusting in others,” he said. “Think of the many ongoing conflicts throughout the world - we are already in the midst of a third World War – and the resulting poverty, suffering, innocent victims, the future denied to children ... A grim scenario, which calls for decisive intervention and restorative work.”
He then turned to discuss the use of the world “build” in the event's theme, which, he said, “is very appropriate. The great ability, typical of craftspeople, of being able to see beauty already inherent in raw material comes to mind. A concrete commitment is thus already indicated: being crafters of trust!”
Trust implies encounter
Another key theme of Pope Francis' address was the connection between trust and encounter.
Whether we are giving or receiving trust, he pointed out, “we always need someone else. Trust, thus, cannot exist without the other. Only if we are willing to get to know them, to discuss with them, to see in them the face of Christ, to share their joys and sufferings, can we trust them. Encounter, thus, is the basis of trust.”
He added: “We were made for love … Encounter must become our greatest desire, our goal to be pursued tenaciously, because a human being is made in such a way that it is not fulfilled, does not develop and cannot find its fullness except through a sincere gift of self."
A landmark event
Pope Francis also had warm words for the organisers of the festival.
“This is an event,” he said, “that has now become a landmark for those who believe that the common good is not a mere possibility, but the cement on which to build a just, true and beautiful society.”
He thus ended his address by encouraging attendees to put into practice the ideas they would be discussing over the coming days:
“Entrepreneurs, professionals, representatives of the institutional, cooperative, economic and cultural worlds, gathered here in Verona, I ask you to promote and nurture, each in your own spheres, a culture of encounter and trust.”