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Personal responsibility key to starting off post-pandemic world, says Pope

Pope Francis indicating with his finger someone

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Pope Francis General Audience March 02, 2016

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 08/19/21

Who will stand up to say, "Here I am!"

Even while disconnecting us in many ways, the pandemic has placed the person back at the center, according to Pope Francis.

We’re back to asking fundamental questions about the meaning of existence, according to a message written on the Pope’s behalf by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to the Rimini Meeting.

The Rimini Meeting – or the Meeting for friendship among peoples – is a gathering held every year in Rimini, Italy, at the end of August. It has been held since 1980 and is created by the Catholic lay Communion and Liberation movement.

This year, it is being held in person again from August 20 to 25, after last year’s virtual event due to the pandemic.

The papal message was focused on this 42nd meeting’s theme: “The courage to say ‘I,’” a saying from Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.

The papal message said the saying is helpful as the world seeks “to start off again on the right foot, so as not to waste the opportunity provided by the crisis of the pandemic.”

Starting again, he added, requires everyone to have the courage to take risks, calling this an act of freedom.

“Despite imposing physical distancing, the pandemic has placed the person, the ‘I’ of each person, back at the center, in many cases provoking a reawakening of fundamental questions about the meaning of existence and the utility of living that had been dormant or, worse still, censored for too long.”

Heroes already

The pandemic has already elicited personal responsibility in so many ways, the Pope reflected.

“Faced with sickness and pain, faced with the emergence of a need, many people unflinchingly said: ‘Here I am.’”

In the wake of the pandemic, said Pope Francis, all people must take up their own responsibilities in order to serve others.

“What is needed above all is someone who has the courage to say ‘I’ with responsibility and not with selfishness, communicating with his or her own life that the day can begin with reliable hope.”

Courage in Christ

It is the Holy Spirit that can give us that courage, the message assures. A filial relationship with the eternal Father frees us from fear.

St. Peter offers a prime example, according to Pope Francis. Peter was a fearful man—a coward even—until he was filled with the Holy Spirit and learned to speak courageously about Jesus to his contemporaries.

The profound reason for the courage of the Christian is Christ. It is the Risen Lord who is our security, who makes us experience profound peace even in the midst of life’s storms.

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