Members of the public were able to attend Pope Francis’ general audience today, after an almost six-month absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today’s audience was held in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace following advice from authorities seeking to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.
General audiences are usually held in either St. Peter’s Square or the Paul VI Audience Hall. When the pandemic struck Italy in March, Pope Francis transferred his general audiences to the library of the Apostolic Palace, where they took place without public access. The first livestreamed general audience from the library took place on 11 March.
Solidarity, therefore, is the key to emerging from the crisis better than before.
All humanity, said the Pope, has its common origin in God. We dwell together in our common home, “a garden-planet where God has placed us”, and we have a common destination in Christ.
“But when we forget all this, our interdependence becomes dependence of some on others,” he said. “increasing inequality and marginalization; it weakens the social fabric and the environment deteriorates.”
Pope Francis admitted that the word “solidarity” may seem a little worn and poorly understood.
It is more than “a few sporadic acts of generosity.” Rather, he said, solidarity involves creating a mindset which thinks “in terms of community and the priority of life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.”
Solidarity, said the Pope, “is a matter of justice.”
A healthy and fruitful interdependence “needs strong roots in the humanity and nature created by God; it needs respect for faces and for the land.”
The Pope went on to reflect on the Biblical account of the tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9).
When humanity tries to reach to heaven while ignoring our relationship with each other, creation, and the Creator, we wind up unifying languages and constructing skyscrapers but we “destroy community” and “mortify cultural wealth”.
Another unfortunate result, said the Pope, is that we instrumentalize others as a workforce, rather than building up a community.
“When shares fall in the financial markets, all the agencies report the news,” he lamented. “Thousands of people fall due to hunger and no-one talks about it.”
Diversity and harmony
Pentecost, said Pope Francis, is the answer and antithesis of Babel.
Descending upon the community, “the Spirit creates unity in diversity; He creates harmony.”
“With Pentecost,” he said, “God makes Himself present and inspires the faith of the community united in diversity and in solidarity.”
Diversity ensures the community is imbued with “antibodies” which remind the community that each person is unique and protects it from the danger of individualism and selfishness.
“Solidarity,” said the Pope, “is the road to take towards a post-pandemic world, towards the healing of our interpersonal and social sicknesses. There is no other path.”
Solidity and meaning in solidarity
Finally, Pope Francis encouraged everyone to let our solidarity be guided by faith, so that we might translate the love of God for our brother and sisters to build communities that promote healthy growth.
He also invited everyone to ask ourselves: “Do I think about others?”