I will keep in my heart the welcoming crowds, says the Pope

Vatican City (Wednesday, 01/21/2015, Gaudium Press) At the General Audience on Wednesday 21, at the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis remembered his recent apostolic journey to Asia, where he visited the Catholic faithful of Sri Lanka and The Philippines, encountering the largest Catholic crowd ever.

He described his visit as a joy-filled encounter with the Catholic communities in the nations he visited and spoke of the occasion he had to encourage inter-religious dialogue a the service of peace, unity and social development.

Highlighting some of the salient moments of his journey, the Pope said that in Sri Lanka he canonized Saint Joseph Vaz: ” a great missionary whose example of charity continues to inspire the faithful in their service to the poor and in respectful relations with the followers of other religions”.

And mentioning that Sri Lanka still suffers the effects of a prolonged civil conflict, Pope Francis said that during his meeting with religious leaders he asked that “we work together as agents of healing, peace and reconciliation.”

His main reason for visiting the Philippines, the Pope said, was “to be close to our brothers and sisters who were affected by the devastation of the Typhoon Yolanda”.

In Tacloban, “the region hardest hit by the typhoon, I paid tribute to the faith and to the capacity to rebuild of the local population” he said.

And he did not neglect to remember the young woman, Kristel, who was killed in an accident at the site of the Mass in Tacloban.

In Manila, he said, “I asked families to cherish and protect the family in its fundamental role in society and in God’s plan”.

He said that it was a reason for consolation and hope to see so many numerous families who welcome each child as a gift of God: “they know that every child is a blessing”.

And commenting on the fact that some affirm that having too many children can be a cause of poverty, Pope Francis said “we can all say that the main cause of poverty is an economic system that, at its center, has replaced man with the god of money”.

“An economic system that excludes children, the elderly and young people who cannot find work, creates the throwaway culture that we live in today” he said.

“We have become used to seeing people who have been discarded. This is the main reason for poverty, and not numerous families” he said.

And Pope Francis mentioned his meeting in Manila with young people during which he challenged them to build a society of integrity and compassion for the poor.

Compassion for the poor, he said, also implies “the rejection of all forms of corruption because corruption steals from the poor” he said.

Concluding Pope Francis said he urged the Filipino to persevere in their precious witness to the Gospel on the great continent of Asia.(LMI)

With information from Vatican Radio

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