Here is a working translation of the message 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. Pope Francis’ message, also published in the other newspapers of the Gedi News Network group, was published this morning by the Holy See Press Office:
Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends.
Almost a year has passed since the collapse of the Morandi Bridge which killed 43 people.
Families who left or returned from vacation, men and women who were traveling for work. It was a wound inflicted on the heart of your city, a tragedy for those who lost their relatives, a tragedy for the wounded, a shocking event for those who were forced to leave their homes living displaced.
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. Faced with events of this kind, the pain caused by the losses suffered is excruciating and not easy to alleviate, just as 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. I have no answers, because after these tragedies there is crying, remaining silent, asking ourselves about the reason for the fragility of what we build, and above all, praying. But 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. I think of the daily toil, the stubborn will and hopes of the people of Genoa.
Today I want to tell you one thing first of all: 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 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. 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. We look to Him, we entrust our questions to Him, our pain, our anger.
But I would also like to tell you that Jesus on the Cross was not alone. 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. 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. How the humble farmer Benedetto Pareto was reassured in 1490, on Monte Figogna, when he saw a Lady with a beautiful and very sweet face, who presented herself to him as the Mother of Jesus asking for the construction of a chapel. Raise your eyes to the Madonna della Guardia and trust in her help, as Mother.
We are men and women full of defects and weaknesses, but we have a Merciful Father to turn to, a Crucified and Risen Son who walks with us, the Holy Spirit who assists us and helps us.
He accompanies. We have a Mother in Heaven who continues to spread her mantle over us without ever abandoning us.
I would also like to tell you that you are not alone because the Christian community, the Church of Genoa, is with you and shares your sufferings and your difficulties. The more we are aware of our weakness, of the precariousness of our human condition, the more we rediscover the beauty of human relationships, of the bonds that unite us, like families, communities, civil society. 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. 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! Continue to stand by those most affected. I pray for you and please do not forget to pray for me.
Francis[Original Text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT Sr. Vatican Correspondent Deborah Castellano Lubov]