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Pope Francis: protect humanity, the poor, the weak
March 21, 2013

Pope Francis: protect humanity, the poor, the weak
Pope Francis greets followers in Saint Peter's Square. (Peter Balleis, S.J.— Jesuit Refugee Service)
"When the Pope denounces the failure of some leaders to live up to their responsibilities, giving way to forces of destruction and hatred, this evokes a concept so dear to Jesuit Refugee Service, advocacy dealing with the root causes of injustice and displacement. His message has so much spiritual depth; it says a lot of our mission of accompaniment, service and advocacy," said JRS International Director Fr. Peter Balleis S.J.

(Rome) March 21, 2013 – In his inauguration Mass homily Tuesday, Pope Francis called on those in positions of responsibility and all men and women of goodwill to be protectors of creation and humanity, and not allow "hatred, envy and pride" to taint their lives.

"When the Pope denounces the failure of some leaders to live up to their responsibilities, giving way to forces of destruction and hatred, this evokes a concept so dear to Jesuit Refugee Service, advocacy dealing with the root causes of injustice and displacement. His message has so much spiritual depth; it says a lot of our mission of accompaniment, service and advocacy," said JRS International Director Fr. Peter Balleis S.J.

In the 15-minute homily, the new pope emphasized the role of Joseph as a protector, who carried out that role, discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an "unfailing presence and utter fidelity."

Accepting the responsibility of the power conferred on him as the new Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis said we should "never forget that real power is service," and that he himself when exercising power, "must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross."

When humans fail to live up to their responsibilities, destruction of the lives of others prevails and hearts are hardened. But even in so much darkness, the pontiff continued, "we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others."

"To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!"

"St Joseph was the guardian – 'the protector' – of the Holy Family when they were exiled to Egypt as refugees. Characterized by tenderness and love, this guardianship is central to our mission of accompaniment and service," said Fr. Balleis.

Protection of all men and women comes from serving others with tenderness and love. Rather than of weakness, tenderness is a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for compassion, for genuine openness and concern for others, for love.

"We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!"

Extending a hand to those of other traditions, Pope Francis reminded the crowd that the "vocation of being a 'protector' … is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone."

This means, he said, citing the book of Genesis and pointing to the example set by St. Francis of Assisi, respecting the environment and showing loving concern for every person, especially children, the elderly and those in need.


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