(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Wednesday with a large group of French pilgrims, including very poor and homeless people supported by the Sappel community. The group of 200 pilgrims from the Lyon region of France is marking the upcoming one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Fr Joseph Wresinski who founded the ATD Fourth World international movement working for the eradication of chronic poverty across the globe.
In his words to the group, the Pope stressed the important witness that this pilgrimage provides of walking together and supporting each other. He told his guests how welcome they were in the Vatican and reminded them that Jesus came to share in their condition of poverty and rejection by the people of his day.
Quoting the words of Fr Wresinski, Pope Francis said ‘You are in the heart of the Church’ because Jesus always gave priority to the poor and suffering. You help us to encounter Jesus, he said, not through words, but through the witness of your lives and by reminding us that we are all children of God the Father.
Keep hope alive
The Pope urged his listeners to always be courageous and to keep alive the joy of hope, because we believe, he said, in a God who repairs injustice, who comforts the suffering and who rewards those who maintain their faith in him.
Pray for those responsible for poverty
He also asked them to pray for a conversion of hearts of those responsible for poverty in the world: the rich, the hypocrites, those who ignore the cry of the hungry at their doors. Pray too for the priests and Levites, the Pope said, all those who see people in pain and need, but who lack compassion and who pass by on the other side of the road.
Finally the Pope thanked those accompanying the group and carrying on the work of Fr Wresinski, noting that it is through sharing life with the poor that we are transformed and converted.
Rediscover solidarity with the poor
Born in France to very poor immigrant parents, Joseph Wresinski founded the (ATD) Fourth World movement in 1957 to end the exclusion and injustice of poverty and to bring the voices of the excluded into the public square. During this year of Mercy, Pope Francis said, it is time to rediscover and to live out this dimension of solidarity, fraternity and mutual support.