By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis sent a video message on Thursday to participants in the tenth Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, taking place in Verona, Italy from 26 – 29 November.
Extending his cordial greetings to those attending physically and virtually, the Pope underlined the creative methodology of the festival, which promotes encounters between “people who differ in their sensibilities and actions, but converge in building up the common good.”
A particular celebration
The Pope drew attention to the particular circumstances of this year’s celebration, highlighting the continuing health crisis, which brings with it “serious personal and social wounds.”
He also recalled the notable absence of Don Adriano Vincenzi, the animator of the previous nine festivals, who died in February 2020.
Recalling Don Vincenzi’s service, Pope Francis praised his distinctive trait of initiating processes “whose fruits will be reaped by others” with hope placed in the secret power of the good that is sown.
Memory and the future
The Pope said this year’s theme – “Memory of the Future” – invites everyone to a creative attitude that enables us to “visit the future.”
For Christians, the Pope noted, “the future has a name and this name is hope.”
Hope: the virtue of the heart
Hope, the Pope explained, is “the virtue of a heart that does not close itself off in darkness”. It does not get bogged down in the past, does not live only in the present, but knows how to “see tomorrow.”
Tomorrow” for Christians, he said, becomes a “life redeemed” – the joy of the gift of encounter with Trinitarian love.
In this sense, being Church means having a creative and eschatologically-oriented outlook, without giving in to the temptation of nostalgia, which the Pope describes as “a real spiritual pathology.”
Clarifying further, Pope Francis affirmed that the Christian dynamic is not to hold on to the past nostalgically, but rather to access the eternal memory of the Father by living a “life of Charity.”
According to Russian thinker Ivanovic Ivanov, this is because only what God remembers ever truly exists, the Pope explained.
Consequently, memory which is intrinsically linked to love and experience becomes one of the deepest dimensions of the human person – not the nostalgia that “blocks creativity and makes us rigid and ideological people”- in social, political and ecclesial spheres.
Baptism, life and memory
As Christians, we have all been generated to life in Baptism, Pope Francis affirmed.
We have “received as a gift the life that is communion with God, with others and with creation.” Our life “is the very life of Christ”, and we cannot live as believers in the world unless we manifest His very life in us, the Pope said.
Therefore, grafted into the life of Trinitarian love, we become capable of memory – of the memory of God. Thus, only that which is love does not fall into oblivion because it finds its reason for being in the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Viewed in this way, our whole life must be in some way “a liturgy, an anamnesis, an eternal memory of the Easter of Christ,” said the Pope.
Living as believers
Pope Francis explained that living the memory of the future is to commit ourselves the making the Church “become the beginning and the seed of God’s kingdom on earth.”
This means living as believers immersed in society, while at the same time “manifesting the life of God received at Baptism, so that we can even now remember the future life in which we will be together with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. In this manner, we can overcome the utopian temptation of reducing the proclamation of the Gospel to mere sociological horizons, economic theories or political factions.
“We need to engage with the world, with the strength and creativity of God’s life within us, in order to capture people’s hearts and direct their eyes to the Gospel of Jesus. In this way we can help seed projects which promote a new, inclusive economy and a form of politics capable of love,” Pope Francis said.
Concluding, the Pope addressed the various actors of society at the Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, and urged them to remain on the path traced for them by Don Adriano Vincenzi through his knowledge of the topic – a path the Pope said will lead them to become bridge builders.