Culture Ethics

Pope Francis to city dwellers: ‘Come down from the towers’

Children play in the fountain at Dilworth Park, surrounded by city buildings, in Philadelphia, Pa., on August 28, 2015, a month before Pope Francis plans to visit the city. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow
Children play in the fountain at Dilworth Park, surrounded by city buildings, in Philadelphia, Pa., on August 28, 2015, a month before Pope Francis plans to visit the city. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

Children play in the fountain at Dilworth Park, surrounded by city buildings, in Philadelphia on Aug. 28, 2015, a month before Pope Francis plans to visit the city. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Wednesday (Sept. 2) told his followers to clamber down from their lofty skyscrapers, reclaim public spaces and rejoin communities.

Speaking at his weekly public audience at the Vatican, the pope said it was up to families to rejuvenate cities.

There may be a lot of ways to spend one’s free time in a city, but love is missing, Francis said.

“The smile of a family is capable of overcoming this desertification of our cities. And this is the victory of the love of a family,” he told followers in St. Peter’s Square.

No feat of engineering or politics is able to substitute the contribution made by families to a city, the pontiff added.

“We must come down from the towers and the armored rooms of the elite, to once again frequent the houses and open spaces of the masses, open to the love of the family,” Francis said.

Francis has followed his own example by refusing to live in the papal palace and instead taking up modest quarters inside a Vatican guest house and sharing meals with other Vatican workers.

His remarks Wednesday echo comments made in his encyclical on the environment, in which he lamented the growth of chaotic megacities that breed anonymity.

“In the unstable neighborhoods of mega-cities, the daily experience of overcrowding and social anonymity can create a sense of uprootedness which spawns antisocial behavior and violence,” he wrote in the papal letter, telling city planners to put more focus on people than on design.

During the pope’s weekly audience, Francis also marked the anniversary of the end of World War II in the Far East. “No more war!” the pope said, drawing on the suffering of persecuted Christians and minorities, the “folly of destruction” and the arms trade.

YS/MG END SCAMMELL

About the author

Rosie Scammell

Rosie Scammell is a British journalist with extensive experience reporting for leading international news organizations. She has been based in Italy since 2012 and covers the Vatican for RNS.

7 Comments

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  • Bravo, Pope Francis! And don’t forget to smile and say hello to those in Church! Ask them to come home with you and share a meal!
    Especially those you don’t know! Be truly Christian. “Bear one another’s burdens.”
    Many people don’t go to Church because it’s so impersonal.

  • City dwellers to Francis: Considering your lack of authority over anyone makes your commentary on anything meaningless i.e. Matt 16:18 is historically nil.

  • City people live in fear. High walls, barbed wire fences, all sorts of gadgets – it’s a life like the one in prison. Simple and poor people spend their precious lives trusting in the protection of the mighty Giver of life.

  • While being an Evangelical (and disagreeing with with some of Catholic theology and teaching), I have to agree with the Pope on this. We as followers of Christ as not to be impersonal to others and spend our time focusing on ourselves. While cities are a great opportunity to have a concentrated population to witness to, many Christ-followers fall into the “norm” of city-life and forget their first Love and do not use this opportunity to share the Gospel (I also am guilty of this). Our focus should never be on our well being or how successful we can be in a worldly sense, but rather in how many people we can share our Good News with! Christ is risen! We are free! We should not keep the Gospel to ourselves, but rather let the whole world know of the Hope that we have!

  • Hunter,

    Ahh, the infamous resurrection con!!

    The facts:

    Heaven is a spirit state as per JPII and T. Aquinas. As such there are no bodies in your heaven.

    So where are the bones”? As per Professor Crossan’s analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

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