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Pope in his dad’s hometown urges us to be more than spectators of the Cross

Pope-Francis-celebrates-mass-on-November-20-2022-at-the-cathedral-of-Asti-AFP

VINCENZO PINTO | AFP

I.Media for Aleteia - published on 11/20/22

Celebrating Christ the King in northern Italy, Pope laments "rose-colored" Christianity of those who do not pray and do not care about their neighbor

“I have come to rediscover the flavor of roots,” Pope Francis said during his homily in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in Asti, in northern Italy, on November 20, 2022. “It was from these lands that my father left to emigrate to Argentina,” he recalled, paying tribute to “these lands made precious by the good products of the soil and above all by the genuine hard work of the people.”

Only 1,200 inhabitants of Asti were able to be inside the beautiful but small cathedral to attend the celebration of the Mass, while another 4,000 congregated despite the early morning cold in the square of the cathedral, following the ceremony with two giant screens.

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In advance of the celebration, about 25,000 local residents, according to organizers, had gathered on the streets of the small Piedmontese city that the Pontiff traveled by popemobile to the cathedral.

The Pope arrived in Asti on Saturday. That afternoon, he paid several visits to members of his paternal family. In particular, he had lunch with a cousin celebrating her 90th birthday in the small town of Portacomaro, his father’s home town located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Asti. He then went to the retirement home in that village to greet several residents before going to a nearby town where another cousin lives.

Pope-Francis-and-his-90-years-old-cousin-Carla-Rabezzana-AFP
Pope Francis and his 90-year-old cousin, Carla Rabezzana.

The Pontiff’s father, Mario, left the region in the late 1920s to go to Argentina. He arrived in Buenos Aires in on January 25, 1929, at the tail end of a trend that brought some 14 million Italians to emigrate between 1876 and 1915.

There Mario met Regina Maria Sivori, a daughter of Genoese immigrants, who became his wife and the mother of Jorge Mario and Jorge’s four siblings.

The roots of faith are in the Cross

In his homily, the Pontiff encouraged the people of Asti to remember their past and to return “to the roots of faith,” that of the “arid soil of Calvary where the seed of Jesus, in dying, made hope germinate.”

… The Gospel … brings us back to the roots of faith. They are found in the arid soil of Calvary, where the seed of Jesus, dying, made hope sprout: planted in the heart of the earth, He opened for us the way to Heaven; by His death He gave us eternal life; through the wood of the cross He brought us the fruits of salvation. Let us therefore look to Him, let us look to the Crucified One.

On this feast of Christ the King, he recalled that God’s kingship was manifested precisely in the “paradox of the Cross,” when “with open arms” and crowned with thorns, he decided to embrace humanity.

“He entered the black holes of hatred and the black holes of abandonment to illuminate every life and embrace every reality,” he stressed.

Pope Francis contrasted two attitudes before the Cross: First, that of the “spectator,” whose “refrain” is expressed in the words of the bad thief: “If you are a king, save yourself!”

This attitude is “a wave that spreads through indifference,” he lamented, criticizing the hypocrisy of “rose-colored Christians who say they believe in God and want peace, but do not pray and do not care about their neighbor.”

On the contrary, the attitude of the one who is involved in the mystery of the Cross is embodied in the figure of the good thief who, beside Christ on Calvary, “becomes the first saint” because he places his trust in God and calls on his mercy.

Pope-Francis-being-conferred-with-Honorary-Citizenship-of-the-city-of-Asti-AFP
Pope Francis is awarded honorary citizenship of Asti.

Vocations

During the celebration, the Pope conferred the ministry of acolyte to the only seminarian of the Diocese of Asti, Stefano Accornero. Prior to the celebration, the 24-year-old expressed his gratitude for being able to take this step on the road to the priesthood in the presence of the Pope, explaining that service at the altar is a “springboard” to love even more “the body of Christ that is the Church.”

In encouraging the seminarian, the Pope noted the lack of vocations in the Piedmont Diocese and invited the population to pray for young men to respond to the call.

At the end of the Mass, the Pope prayed the Angelus inside the cathedral and then returned to the archdiocese for lunch. Around 3:30 p.m., he met with 1,340 children before flying back to Rome by helicopter.

Tags:
ImmigrationItalyPope Francis
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