From the Vatican, August 2, 2016
I am glad to send you, the organizers, the volunteers and all participants of the 37th Edition of the Meeting
for friendship amongst peoples the warmest greetings of the Holy Father Pope Francis, together with my
personal best wishes for this remarkable event.
The title selected for this year’s Meeting - You are a good for me - is a courageous one. Indeed, it takes
courage to state the above, while so many aspects of the surrounding world seem to go in the opposite
direction. Often times the temptation to restrict ourselves to the limited horizon of our personal interests
prevails, so that the others become unnecessary or - even worse - an annoyance or a hindrance. Yet, this is
not consistent with our nature: as early as childhood we discover the beauty of the link between human
beings and learn to meet the others by acknowledging and respecting them as brothers and interlocutors,
as they are the children of our common Father in Heaven. On the contrary, individualism sets a distance
between people, emphasizes their flaws and limits, and undermines our wish and ability to live together,
where each of us can be free and happy together with the others and be enriched by their diversity.
Faced with threats to peace and security of both peoples and nations, we are called upon to acknowledge
that our existential insecurity is what makes us most afraid of others, as if they were rivals depriving us of
our vital space and going beyond the boundaries we have built. Faced with the epochal change affecting us
all, who can reasonably believe to redeem oneself out of one’s strengths alone? Presumptuousness is the
very foundation of any conflict between men. Following the example of the Lord Jesus, Christians are
always open towards the others, whoever they are, as they think that nobody is lost forever. The Gospel
provides us with an evocative image of this attitude: the prodigal son pasturing the swine and his father
looking from his terrace every evening to check if he is coming home and hoping so, despite everything and
everyone. The world would change immensely, if this unlimited hope became the lens through which men
look at themselves! Both the tax-collector Zacchaeus and the good thief on the cross were considered by
Jesus as creatures of God, in need of His salvific embrace. And even Judas heard Jesus calling him “friend”
in the very moment of delivering him to his opponents.
There is one word we must endlessly repeat and above all put in practice, i.e. dialogue. If we do that, we
will find out that opening ourselves to the others does not make us poorer, but richer instead, as it enables
us to understand the others’ truth, the importance of their experience and the background of their words,
even when they hide behind behaviours and choices we disagree with. A real encounter implies having a clear identity and at the same time the willingness to put ourselves in the shoes of the others to dig below
the surface and grasp what troubles their heart and what they are truly looking for. This is the way to start
that dialogue making us progress towards new understandings enriching us all. This is the challenge that
lies ahead of all men of goodwill.
Several upheavals we are often powerless witnesses to are, in fact, a mysterious invitation to gain back the
foundations of communion between men for a new beginning. Against this background, what contribution
can we make as Christ's disciples? Our task coincides with the mission God has chosen us for: it is “the
proclamation of the Gospel, which today more than ever finds expression in going forth to bind the wounds
of humanity with the powerful yet simple presence of Jesus, and his mercy that consoles and encourages.”
(Pope Francis, Address on the occasion of the conferral of the Charlemagne Prize, May 6, 2016).
This is the hope of the Holy Father, who encourages the Meeting participants to pay the utmost attention
in bearing their personal creative witness, aware of the fact that it is not the strength of our tools that
attracts, conquers and loosens our chains, but rather the tenacious gentleness of the merciful love of the
Father we can all draw from the source of grace provided by God in the Sacraments, especially the Holy
Communion and the Penance, to then donate love to our brothers. He urges us to carry on our
commitment to be close to the others and to do our best to serve them with joy following Father Giussani’s
teaching: “The look of the Christians resonates with a passion that makes them capable to glorify all the
good there is in anything they encounter, as this good makes them realize they are part of the greater
picture that will be fulfilled in Eternity and has been revealed to us in Christ.” (L. GIUSSANI, S. ALBERTO, J.
PRADES, Generare tracce nella storia del mondo, Rizzoli, Milan, 1998, page. 157).
With these feelings, the Holy Father invokes the light of the Holy Spirit on your Excellency, the organizers,
the participants and the many volunteers of the Meeting for friendship amongst peoples for a fruitful
experience of faith and fraternal communion. His Holiness asks everybody to pray for his ministry and gives
wholeheartedly his Apostolic Blessing.
May I also wish your Excellency all the best for the Meeting and send you my fondest regards.