VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Monday (June 22) concluded a whirlwind two-day visit to Turin in northern Italy, during which his lively, often extemporaneous conversations covered everything from chastity to the arms trade.
An estimated 100,000 people gathered in central Turin on Sunday to see the pope celebrate Mass, a sign of the Argentine pontiff’s enduring popularity.
And while the initial focus was on his visit to the Shroud of Turin — believed by many to be the burial cloth that enfolded Jesus’ body — it was comments made by Francis in his various encounters that caught the most attention.
Here are some key quotes from the pontiff’s latest visit outside the Vatican:
- Apology for the persecution of the Waldensians, a small Christian movement that was considered a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation: “On behalf of the Catholic Church, I ask your forgiveness … for the non-Christian — even inhuman — attitudes and behavior that, in history, we have had against you.”
- Migrants should not be used as scapegoats: “Immigration increases competition, but migrants are not to be blamed, because there are victims of inequality, of this throwaway economy and of wars.”
- Europe’s migration crisis, which is expected to see 200,000 people arrive to Italy by boat this year, brings tears to his eyes: “It makes one cry to see the spectacle of recent days, in which human beings are treated like merchandise!”
- Youth unemployment — which is over 40 percent in Italy — is “a true and proper social plague.”
- Young people should hold onto their virginity: “To you young people in this world, in this hedonistic world, in this world where only pleasure is advertised, get through it well, have a beautiful life, I tell you: be chaste, be chaste.”
- Children hold the future, but don’t forget the older generation: “Grandparents are the memory of the past which traces our steps for the future.”
- People should follow the example set by Don Bosco, a 19th-century Italian saint, in seeking out those in need: “Go forward anew to find the children and young people where they live: in the peripheries of the great cities, in areas of physical and moral danger.”
- There’s no need to worry about the future if you have the “rock” of God’s love: “Even we Christians run the risk of letting ourselves be paralyzed by fears of the future and to look for security in things that pass, or on a model of a closed society that tends to exclude more than include.”
- There’s no such thing as peace if the arms trade still exists: “There’s this hypocrisy of speaking about peace and manufacturing arms, no less than selling weapons to this (person) who’s in war with that one, and to that (person) who’s in war with this one!”
- Women may not be guaranteed top Vatican jobs: “But do you think nominating the head of a dicastery (a major Vatican office) will be a strong decision?” Francis said, posing the commonly-asked question to himself. “All believe that this is a strong decision. This is a ‘functionalism.'”
Visiting Turin was also a “homecoming” for the pope, whose grandparents were married in the Italian city in 1907. Before returning to the Vatican the pontiff held a family reunion with 30 of his relatives.
DG/LM END SCAMMELL