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Pope Francis: in Bozzolo, Don Mazzolari “lived in poverty but was not a poor priest”. “Listen to the world, without fear of passing through deserts and areas of darkness”

“I encourage you, brothers and priests, to listen to the world, to those who live and work in it, to take on every question of meaning and hope, without fear of passing through deserts and areas of darkness”. Pope Francis voiced this exhortation towards the end of his address in Bozzolo, focused on the image of the plain. “Don Primo’s pastoral charity opened up several horizons in the complex situations he had to face: wars, totalitarianism, fratricidal clashes, the hardship of democracy in gestation, the misery of his people”, Pope Francis recalled, just before his exhortation. “In this way we can become a poor Church for and with the poor, the Church of Jesus”, Pope Francis assured. “That of the poor is defined by Don Primo as a ‘sluggish existence’, and the Church needs to convert to recognition of their life to love them as they are: ‘The poor want to be loved as poor people, that is, without calculating their poverty, without pretence or right to debt, not even making them citizens of the kingdom of heaven, much less proselytizers’, Pope Francis said, citing Don Primo.

“The Servant of God lived in poverty but was not a poor priest”, Pope Francis noted, mentioning Don Primo’s spiritual testament: “Around my altar, and around my house and my work there was never the ‘sound of money making’. The little that entered my hands went where it was supposed to go. If I were to have any regret on this issue, it would concern my poor and parish works that I could have helped a great deal”. “The style of man: with a lot, he does little. God’s style: with nothing, He does all”, another citation: “For this reason, the credibility of the proclamation passes through the simplicity and poverty of the Church: ‘If we want to bring the poor people back to their home, the poor need to find the air of the Poor man’, that is, of Jesus Christ”. In his book “The Via Crucis of the Poor”, Don Primo recalls that charity is a matter of spirituality and of gaze: “Those who have little charity see few poor; those who have much charity see many poor; those who have no charity see no one”. And he adds: “He who knows the poor, knows his brother: whoever sees the brother sees Christ, who sees Christ sees life and its true poetry, because charity is the poem of heaven brought to earth”.

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