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Catholic World News
September 15, 2021
On September 14, the third day of the 34th apostolic journey of his pontificate, Pope Francis flew from Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital and largest city, to eastern Slovakia, where he spent the day in the nation’s second—and third-largest cities, Kosice and Presov (map).
In Presov, the Pontiff presided at an outdoor Byzantine Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (video). Pope Francis called on the faithful to contemplate and bear witness to the Cross, while criticizing the use the Cross as a sign of political power.
“Crucifixes are found all around us: on necks, in homes, in cars, in pockets,” the Pope preached. “What good is this, unless we stop to look at the crucified Jesus and open our hearts to him, unless we let ourselves be struck by the wounds he bears for our sake, unless our hearts swell with emotion and we weep before the God wounded for love of us? Unless we do that, the cross remains an unread book whose title and author we know, without its having any impact on our lives.”
“A witness of the cross does not dwell on the wrongs of the past or keep lamenting the present,” he continued. “Witnesses of the cross have but one strategy, that of the Master: humble love. They do not look for triumphs here below, because they know that the love of Christ bears fruit in the events of daily life, renewing all things from within, like the seed that falls to the ground, dies and produces much fruit.”
In Kosice, Pope Francis met with members of the Roma (Romani) community, once more commonly known as Gypsies (video). Emphasizing that all the members of the Church are children of God the Father, the Pope called for an end to prejudices.
“Hostility and sharp words are not helpful,” he said. “Marginalizing others accomplishes nothing. Segregating ourselves and other people eventually leads to anger. The path to peaceful coexistence is integration: an organic, gradual and vital process that starts with coming to know one another, then patiently grows, keeping its gaze fixed on the future.”
Pope Francis then went to a stadium in Kosice, where he met with young people (video). In his remarks, the Pope encouraged them to seek lifelong love, to learn from their roots by visiting their grandparents, and to go to Confession.
“Today, being really original and revolutionary means rebelling against the culture of the ephemeral, going beyond shallow instincts and momentary pleasures, and choosing to love with every fiber of your being, for the rest of your life,” the Pope said. “We were not put here just to make do, but to make something of our lives.”
“God rejoices in forgiving us, time and time again,” Pope Francis added. “Whenever he picks us up, he believes in us as if it were the first time. He never grows discouraged. We are the ones who get discouraged, not he. He does not label us as sinners: he sees us as children to be loved. He does not see us as lost causes, but as beloved and hurting children; and then he feels all the more compassion and tenderness. So never forget, whenever we go to confession, there is a party in heaven. May it also be so on earth!”
Following his meeting with young people, the Pope flew back to Bratislava.
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