(Vatican Radio) It was another crowded Saturday in St. Peter’s this weekend as tens of thousands of members of Italy’s oldest voluntary movement descended on the square to meet Pope Francis.
The Misericordie, or Mercies, were founded 770 years ago in assistance to the poor and marginalized. Today they have 30,000 volunteers throughout the peninsula, and are distinguised by their emblematic turquoise and yellow uniforms.
After touring at length among them in greeting, the Holy Father noted that: “Following the example of our Master, we are called to draw close to others and to share in the condition of the people we meet. Our words, our actions, our attitudes must express solidarity, we must not remain strangers to the pain of others, and we must do this with fraternal warmth and without falling into any form of paternalism.
We have lots of information and statistics on poverty and human trials. There is the risk of our becoming well informed and disembodied spectators of these realities, or of making nice speeches that end with verbal solutions and a disengagement from the real problems. The Pope said words do not fix anything. What is needed is work, Christian testimony, going out to meet those who suffer as Jesus did.
Imitate Jesus: He walks the streets and makes no plans for the poor, or the sick or the disabled He encounters along the way; instead He stops at the very first one He encounters and, becoming a presence that helps us, is a sign of the nearness of God, His goodness, providence and love”.