November 30, 2023

Verbatim: Pope Francis’ message to participants in the 13th festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church


Pope Francis’ message to participants in the 13th festival  of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

It is precisely you lay professionals who do not spare yourselves and represent one of the convergences expressed in the Synthesis Report of the First Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: “If the mission is a grace that engages the entire Church, the lay faithful contribute in a vital way to realizing it in all environments and in the most ordinary situations every day. It is they, above all, who make the Church present and proclaim the Gospel in the culture of the digital environment, which has such a strong impact throughout the world, in youth cultures, in the world of work, in economics and politics, in the arts and culture, in scientific research, in education and formation, in care for the common home, and in a special way, in participation in public life.”

The theme “#soci@lmente liberi” (#soci@lly free), recalls very topical issues, especially regarding the digital culture that influences relationships between people and society. The symbol @ used in the word “socialmente” indicated a unit of measurement and assumed accounting value, before arriving at its common use in e-mail to mean “at.”

From its history comes an indication for living freedom in the social media today. It signifies the “at” indicating closeness, contact, intimate expression of freedom, to keep in one’s heart. The network we want is created “not to entrap, but to liberate, to protect a communion of people who are free. The Church herself is a network woven together by Eucharistic communion, where unity is based not on ‘likes’, but on the truth, on the ‘Amen’, by which each one clings to the Body of Christ, and welcomes others” (Message for teh 53rd World Communications Day). In this tension, personal and communitarian freedom are expressed. With regard to the speed of information, which provokes relational voracity, the “amen” is a sort of provocation to go beyond cultural uniformity to give fullness to language, with respect for every person. Let no one be the promoter of a communication of rejection through dissemination of messages of hatred and distortion of reality on the web. Communication reaches its fullness in the total donation of self to the other. In this relationship of reciprocity, the web of freedom develops.

You will recall the account of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 6:34-44). Often the focus remains on 5,000 (being) able to feed themselves from what Jesus made available to them. In reality, the evangelist is far more interested in the way Jesus feeds the crowd. First, Jesus teaches: the primary nourishment resides in the truth of whose history He is the narrator, of which He made Himself a living parable. Furthermore, the people do anything to be able to listen to Him, even travelling many kilometres on foot. Mark lets it be understood the throng perceives the peerless authoritativeness of the Master of Nazareth. This derives from what He says: often they are difficult teachings to assimilate because they are very demanding. His authority comes from His personal involvement and His being the face and Word of the Father in the vagaries of human existence. He has compassion for the people. He has the same sentiments of the people in front of Him. He does not look down on them from above. He makes their problems His own. He takes care of them.

His communication is true because it is inspired by love for those who listen to Him, at times even distractedly. The teaching is followed by the gift of the bread and fellowship. Jesus is interested in the whole person. Jesus is not a solitary leader. To reach all who are gathered, He asks for the disciples’ collaboration. They must enter into His logic of personal involvement. There is no Gospel gift that does not also include a little of the giver himself. This is the freedom to which the disciple is called: that of involving oneself with intelligence and love to make the other grow.

I wish all of you to be able to translate the hashtag of “soci@lmente” by promoting actions and initiatives for the common good.

Nov. 5, 2023

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