CARF Foundation

22 April, 20

Expert Articles

A new closeness

The global crisis of the coronavirus prompts us to reflect on the meaning of our lives and the course of the world. Pope Francis has given two brief interviews, in the newspapers La Repubblica (18-III-2020) and La Stampa (20-III-2020). In them he gives some advice on how to live these dramatic days and proposes to rediscover a new closeness based on fraternity.

The value of the concrete

First of all, it refers to the appreciation of the small things, of the concrete, of care There are minimal gestures, which are sometimes lost in the anonymity of ordinary life, gestures of tenderness, affection and compassion that are nevertheless decisive and important. For example, a hot dish, a caress, a hug, a phone call... They are familiar gestures of attention to the details of every day that make life meaningful and that make communion and communication among us" (Interview 18-III)

The Pope underlines that we should discover what he calls "a new closeness". And he describes it as "a concrete relationship made of care and patience", which improves the relationship in families between parents and children, beyond television and cell phones, that attends to the needs, efforts and desires of each one. "There are - affirms Francisco - a language made of concrete gestures that must be safeguarded. In my opinion, the pain of these days must open us to the concrete" (Ibid.).

Solidarity and prayer

When many have lost their loved ones and many others are struggling to save other lives, the Pope prays for all and supports them as the successor of Peter, and thanks them for being an example of this sensitivity to the concrete. And I ask," he adds that everyone is close of those who have lost loved ones and try to be close to them in every way possible. Consolation must now be everyone's commitment" (Ib.).

Francisco says that he was impressed by an article in Fabio Fazio about the things he is learning these days. Among others, the ethical issue of taxes, which allow for sufficient beds and breathing apparatus in these circumstances.

Significant, to grasp the mood of the Pope in these days, is his answer when asked: How can someone who does not believe live with hope these days?

It is worthwhile to collect that answer, in order to read it carefully:

"We are all God's children and are under his gaze. Even those who have not yet found God, those who do not have the gift of faith, can find their way there, in the good things they believe inThey can find strength in love for their children, their family, their brothers and sisters. One can say: "I cannot pray because I am not a believer". But at the same time, however, he can believe in the love of the people around him and find hope there" (Ibid.).

Pope Francis 1 1

Pope Francis praying for the end of the pandemic

Solidarity and prayer

2. To live this Easter 'behind closed doors Francis proposes a three-word answer: penance, compassion and hope, with the complement of the humilitybecause many times we forget that in life there are 'dark areas', dark moments. We think that it can only happen to someone else. Instead, this time is dark for everyone, without exclusion. It is marked by pain and shadows that have crept into our homes. It is a different situation from those we have lived through. Also because no one can afford to be calm, each one shares these difficult days" (Interview 20-III-2020).

Along these lines, the Pope proposes that Lent can help us to finding a meaning to what is happening to usThe light of God, insofar as it "trains us to see others, especially those who suffer, in solidarity with them. Waiting for the radiance of the light that will once again illuminate everything and everyone" (Ib.).

This is a time-he continues in his answers-when we rediscover the importance of prayerlike the apostles when they cried out to the Lord: Master, we are drowningPrayer," Francis explains, "allows us to understand our vulnerability. It is the cry of the poor, of those who are sinking, of those who feel in danger, alone. And in a difficult, desperate situation, it is important to know that the Lord is there, and that we can cling to him" (Ib.). Then God transmits strength and closeness. Like Peter, he gives us his hand to pull us out in the midst of the storm.

Again, he is asked about unbelievers: where can they find comfort and encouragement? And he responds along the lines of the previous interview, clarifying that he does not want to distinguish between believers and non-believers: "We are all human and, as men, we are all in the same boat. And for a Christian nothing human should be alien. Here we cry because we suffer. All of them. We have humanity and suffering in common. We are helped by unity, mutual collaboration, a sense of responsibility and the spirit of sacrifice that is generated in so many places. We must not distinguish between believers and non-believers, we must go to the root: humanity. Before God we are all children" (Ib.).

Roots, fraternity and hope

In the face of the cases of the sick who are dying alone and isolated, the Pope appreciates and thanks the following the comfort and closeness provided by healthcare personnel, I thank all those nurses, doctors and volunteers who, in spite of the extraordinary fatigue, bend with patience and kindness of heart to make up for the forced absence of family members" (Ib.).

At the end, he is asked in what sense this experience can be useful. for the future. The Pope sees here an opportunity to rediscover universal brotherhood: "To remind people once and for all that humanity is a single community. And how important and decisive universal fraternity is. We have to think that it will be like after a war. There will no longer be 'the other', but rather we will be 'us. Because we can only get out of this situation together" (Ibid.).

As human beings, he concludes, we will have to start over from there: "We will have to look once again at the roots: the grandparents, the elders. To build a true fraternity among us. To remember this difficult experience lived among all of us, all together. And to go forward with hope, which never disappoints. These will be the key words to start again: roots, memory, brotherhood and hope" (Ibid.).

"And I ask that everyone is close of those who have lost loved ones and try to be close to them in every way possible. Consolation must now be everyone's commitment."

Mr. Ramiro Pellitero Iglesias
Professor of Pastoral Theology
Faculty of Theology
University of Navarra

Published in "Church and new evangelization".

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