Pope Francis encourages a delegation of parliamentarians and mayors from northern France to adopt representative methods that allow them to bring people’s real needs to the highest authorities, and urges them to take care of the most disadvantaged in society.
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Pope Francis met on Friday with a delegation of parliamentarians and mayors from the French diocese of Cambrai, accompanied by Bishop Vincent Dollman of Cambrai.
In his address, the Pope applauded the initiative of the visit to Rome, which they were able to hold in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation between the civil and religious authorities of northern France, for the good of all.
Economic, social, cultural challenges
Speaking of their region, the pope noted that it was once rich in coal mines, a strong metallurgical industry and renowned textile factories, which developed during the industrial revolution of the late 19e century. However, the region has suffered setbacks with the closure of mines and factories, and the economic crisis is also causing further impoverishment of the population in these regions.
The pope further noted that in addition to this economic challenge, public administrators are also concerned about the social and cultural dimensions of their region. He urged officials to realize that “man does not only feed on bread, but also on the pride of his roots that culture brings out, thus helping to remind everyone of their dignity.”
Prioritize voter needs
Pope Francis stressed that it is in the areas of social and cultural action that public administrators can “find themselves” regardless of their political affiliation.
He recommended that “by giving priority to the essential needs of your constituents, too often neglected in favor of fashionable arguments that have less to do with their daily lives”, civil servants can “demonstrate a willingness to serve of those who elected [them] and placed their trust in [them].”
Reception of migrants, people with disabilities
Pope Francis then proposed two words to public administrators to encourage their work in the broad social field: welcome and attention.
He stressed the importance of welcoming the poorest, especially migrants, people with disabilities, saying that they need more facilities to facilitate their lives, those of their loved ones, and above all, as a means of showing them the respect that is due to them. .
He insisted that these integration schemes allow many of them to find a job because it is more necessary than ever to continue to make access to employment a priority objective.
Care for the elderly, for people at the end of life
With regard to care, the Pope encouraged special attention to be paid to the elderly in nursing homes and to people at the end of life who must be accompanied by palliative care.
The pope expressed the hope that on such essential questions, the debate could be “conducted in truth to accompany life to its natural end.”
Pope Francis then affirmed that the cultural sphere was an important factor of unity, “insofar as it presents itself as the fruit of a common past, of a history lived in lands that are yours, that you love and where the Church has never been absent. ”
Indeed, the pope noted, “the events of the past have contributed to the history and literature, as well as to the political and economic prospects of the whole country.”
He thus reminded public administrators that it is up to them to enhance their territory in order to pass on its heritage to future generations.
Work for the integral development of all
Concluding his address, the Pope was delighted to see the extent to which civil servants are interested in the message of the Church on certain issues and their awareness of the role they must play through their commitment to the service of their constituents.
He reassured them of the Church’s help for the integral development of the most abandoned in society “by virtue of her faith in Christ who made himself poor”. With you, the Pope said, the Church “seeks to reach the migrants, the elderly and the sick, that is, all those who are ‘left behind’, whose greatest poverty is without any doubt the exclusion and loneliness that accompanies it.”
Finally, Pope Francis blessed the administrators and public representatives, asking God to inspire their projects and initiatives for the common good of their region, and to help them in their implementation.