(Vatican Radio) The image of a city that the New Jerusalem evokes is one of a human society that is based on true solidarity, whereas where envy, unbridled ambitions and spirit of adversity grow, it condemns itself to the violence of chaos.
The common good
Pope Francis made the point on Saturday while addressing some 300 members of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) in the Vatican. The model of the city or town that the Pope proposed to them is one that “does not permit a one-way traffic of exasperated individualism,” that does not tolerate the “blind alleys of corruption” that breeds disintegration, and where there are no “walls of the privatization of public spaces, where the “us” is but a rhetoric ploy that “masks the interest of a few.”
The Pope urged the town and city officials to have “the passion for the common good” that grants each one and his family the possibility to realize themselves and open themselves in communion with others.
Solidarity and human brotherhood
Speaking about areas that lack quality services he said it is here where new “pockets of poverty and marginalization” breed. “This,” he said, “is where the city moves on a double lane.” “On the one hand there is a highway of those who are overly cared for and on the other there are the “bottlenecks of the poor and unemployed, the numerous families and immigrants who have no one to count on.” “We must not accept these plans that divide and make the life of one be the death of the other,” the Pope said, adding, “the struggle itself ends up destroying any sense of solidarity and human brotherhood.”
Learn from the poor
The Pope thus urged the city and town administrations to visit the urban, social and existential peripheries under them, saying the “point of view of the least is the best school that will make us understand the true needs” and their solutions. While making us feel the “pulse of injustice” they will also show us the way to eliminate it and create a community where each one is recognized as a person and citizen with rights and duties. The Pope said that if a mayor is close to his people, things go well always.
Speaking about Italy’s massive problem with migrants and refugees, the Pope said he can well understand the difficulties of the nation grappling with an economic crisis, local communities’ unpreparedness and inadequate measures to deal with the emergencies. He said this difficulty can be overcome by offering spaces for personal encounter and knowledge of one another.
He commended initiatives that “promote the culture of encounter, mutual exchange of artistic and cultural riches, and the knowledge of the places and communities of origin of the new arrivals.” Pope Francis expressed satisfaction that many city and town administrations have adopted the “the good practice of welcome and integration, with encouraging results” which he said should be spread wide.