I wanted to say, I have not forgotten you, I have prayed for all of you…
Do not lose hope. Do not let hope be robbed from you…
You are never alone… You are never abandoned…
Jesus, Mary, God and the Holy Spirit are with you. Turn to them…
These statements were at the heart of the message that Pope Francis sent to the Genoese daily Il Secolo XIX on the occasion of the first anniversary of the collapse of the Morandi Bridge, on August 13, 2019.
Recalling that almost a year has passed since the collapse of the Morandi Bridge which killed 43 people, many families who left or returned from vacation, men and women who were traveling for work, Francis in his letter recognized the event as “a wound inflicted on the heart of your city,” “a tragedy for those who lost their relatives, a tragedy for the wounded,” and “a shocking event for those who were forced to leave their homes living displaced.”
Never Forgot You…
“I want to tell you that I have not forgotten you, that I have prayed and prayed for the victims, for their families, for the wounded, for the displaced, for you all, for Genoa,” Francis underscored, admitting that “faced with events of this kind, the pain caused by the losses suffered is excruciating and not easy to alleviate.”
He also said that “the feeling of non-resignation in the face of a disaster that could have been avoided, is understandable.”
“I do not have ready-made answers to give you, because in the face of certain situations, our poor human words are inadequate,” he admitted.
Message from My Heart, as a Father
“But,” the Holy Father stressed, “I have a message that flows from my heart as a father and a brother, and that I would like to convey to you: Don’t let the vicissitudes of life break the bonds that weave your community, in a way that they erase the memory of what made your history so important and meaningful.”
“I always think of Genoa when I think of the port. I think of the place where my father left from. I think of the daily toil, the stubborn will and hopes of the people of Genoa,” the Argentine-born Pope with family roots in northern Italy shared.
You Are Not And Are Never Alone
“Today, first of all, I want to tell you one thing,” the Pope said, “know that you are not alone. Know that you are never alone. Know that God our Father has answered our cry and our question not with words, but with a presence that accompanies us, that of His Son.”
“Jesus,” he reminded, “passed before us through suffering and death. He has taken upon us all our sufferings. He was despised, humiliated, beaten, nailed to the Cross and brutally killed. God’s response to our pain was a closeness, a presence that accompanies us, that does not leave us alone.”
For this reason, the Holy Father said, “Jesus made Himself equal to us,” and “for this reason, we have Him next to us, to cry with us in the most difficult moments of our lives.”
Francis said we are to look to Him, entrusting our questions to Him, as well as our pain and our anger.
“But I would also like to tell you that Jesus on the Cross was not alone,” he reminded. “Under that scaffold, there was his mother, Maria. Stabat Mater, Mary was under the Cross, to share the suffering of the Son.”
“We are not alone, we have a Mother who from Heaven looks at us with love and is close to us,” he said, urging: “Let us cling to her and say to her: ‘Mother!’ as a child does when he is afraid and wants to be comforted and reassured.”
Francis called on the people of Genoa to raise their eyes to the Madonna della Guardia and trust in her help, as Mother.
Our Mother in Heaven Never Abandons Us
“We are men and women full of defects and weaknesses,” Francis said. “But we have a Merciful Father to turn to, a Crucified and Risen Son who walks with us, and the Holy Spirit who assists us and helps us.”
While reminding the Holy Spirit accompanies, Francis also stressed: “We have a Mother in Heaven who continues to spread her mantle over us without ever abandoning us.”
The Holy Father said he wished to remind them, they are not alone because the Christian community, the Church of Genoa, is with them and shares their sufferings and difficulties. “The more we are aware of our weakness, of the precariousness of our human condition,” Francis said, “the more we rediscover the beauty of human relationships, of the bonds that unite us, like families, communities, civil society.”
Don’t Lose Hope, Don’t Let Hope Be Stolen
“I know that you Genoese are capable of great gestures of solidarity, I know that you roll up your sleeves, that you don’t give up, that you know how to stand beside those who need it most,” he said, acknowledging: “I know that even after a great tragedy that has hurt your families and your city, you have been able to react, get up, look forward.”
“Don’t lose hope, don’t let it be stolen!” the Holy Father concluded, noting; “Continue to stand by those most affected. I pray for you and please do not forget to pray for me.”
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