“The Pope received many invitations to visit Sicily, but owing to his deep sensitivity, in line with his Magisterium his visit is to be seen as a sign of ecclesial communion”. The Archbishop of Palermo, Mons. Corrado Lorefice, thus presented the spirit of the pastoral visit of Pope Francis in Palermo, September 15, marking the 25thanniversary of the murder of Don Pino Puglisi. The prelate had expressed the wish to receive Francis in the Sicilian city “many months ago.” And – revealing unknown details – he said: “he anticipated my words, as he said that ‘it is my desire to come.’” Msgr. Lorefice went on: “As soon as the news was released the archbishop of Bologna Msgr. Matteo Zuppi sent me a message. He wrote: ‘I am happy for you, with you and for your Church. It will be a moment of grace as it has been for the Church of Bologna.’” The bishop highlighted the program of the papal visit that includes the Holy Mass at the Foro Italico, the lunch with the migrants and the poor hosted by the Hope and Charity Mission. A gesture that shows the extent to which “Francis communicates with the signs he makes.” The Pope will also visit the places linked to the life of Don Puglisi; there will be a meeting with the clergy inside the cathedral and then the Pope will pay homage to the final resting place of the priest killed by the Mafia. “He is the pearl of the presbytery of Palermo – said Msgr. Lorefice -. It is a great honour for us to enumerate him among the members of our presbytery with his passionate witness.” The meeting with youths in Piazza Politeama will close the Papal visit.
Which criteria was followed in planning the program of the visit?
It’s the sign of a Pope who reminds us that the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News that involves the lives of all men and women that were scarred by evil. The Gospel has at its heart the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection so that mankind may be free and may have life in abundance. Thus clearly the Pope will be present in those places where the beauty and dignity of those lives risk not being expressed in full, where there is poverty and where the forces of evil seem to prevail.
During his visit to Palermo Pope Francis will commemorate Don Puglisi, martyr of justice. Will this gesture be extended to the lay martyrs, the judges Falcone and Borsellino?
Clearly, whoever lays down his life for the good of others, including people who don’t share the same Christian devotion, are part of the God’s plan of redemption that the Easter of Jesus fulfils. The Pope recognizes also all the martyrs of justice.
All those people whose daily dimension gives life and contributes to stem the primacy of the ego that risks jeopardizing the meaning of community.
The opportunity given by the Holy Father to our Sicilian region and to the diocese of Palermo is the construction of the city of men in the realm of justice.
What do you expect from the Pope’s words?
Francis comes to confirm us in the love. For this love Don Puglisi lay down his life. For our Church it will confirm us in the faith, in hope, and, most of all, in the witness of Christian love. His visit will boost our confidence, it will further encourage us in the belief that the Church of Palermo can continue to embrace the Gospel.
After Lampedusa, Piazza Armerina and Palermo. Francis’ renewed attention for the last on the island…
As always, the Pope reminds us of the Gospel. In Lampedusa, Matthew 25, “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” His visit is also meant to heal the suffering of our island, the suffering of the people of Palermo. We are aware of the social problems that affect our city, which are not only linked to the Mafia but also to sustenance.
Many people in Palermo are still without a home or a job.
The Pope is coming to support us also in this respect, as the witness of a Gospel that reaches out to the life of mankind.