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Peripheries are in “Christian DNA,” says preacher of pope’s retreat

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For the Church, the periphery is not a problem but a horizon”

In his meditation for February 22Father José Tolentino Mendonça, who is preaching the Lenten retreat for the pope and his collaborators, affirmed the peripheries are in “Christian DNA,” Vatican News reported.

“Where is your brother?”

The peripheries represent a “spiritual and existential key,” the preacher said, taking up a theme close to the pope’s heart, referring to those who are disadvantaged or “outliers” in any way, either socially, economically, or for any other reason.

Peripheries have always been the privileged place to meet Christ, and where “the vitality of the Christian project” is born, the preacher said. It is thus necessary, according to Fr. Mendonça, to search for “our brother” among the poor and the abandoned, in the peripheries.

One of the criteria for locating the peripheries, in a physical sense, is access to clean water. In her note for Vatican News, Sr. Bernardette Mary Reis explains “the spiritual question of thirst would remain incomplete if it did not bring us nearer to ‘the literal and elementary thirst which torments and limits the existence of so many of our contemporaries,’” as Fr. Mendonça affirms. The papal retreat has been focused on the theme of thirst — Jesus’ thirst for souls and our spiritual thirst for God.

Statistics claim 30% of the world’s population does not have access to drinking water in their homes.

The Church, the preacher argued, must not be afraid to confront this reality. It is therefore a question of not separating the spiritual thirst, he explained, from thirst in the literal sense of the term. “For the Church, the periphery is not a problem but a horizon,” Fr. Mendonça said.

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