ROME — Pope Francis offered his first public General Audience in many months Wednesday, in which he urged his hearers to practice solidarity, “now more necessary than ever.”
“After many months we meet each other again our face to face, rather than screen to screen. Face to face. This is good!” Francis said to the modest crowd gathered in the San Damaso courtyard within the Vatican walls.
“The current pandemic has highlighted our interdependence: we are all linked to each other, for better or for worse,” the pontiff declared. “Therefore, to come out of this crisis better than before, we have to do so together; together, not alone.”
Solidarity underscores humanity’s “common origin in God,” he said, as well as its “common destination in Christ,” which bind people together in interdependence.
The principle of solidarity “is now more necessary than ever,” he said. “In an interconnected world, we experience what it means to live in the same ‘global village,’” because “everything is interconnected.”
Yet this interdependence must be transformed into solidarity, he insisted, which requires overcoming selfishness and breaking down barriers.
Solidarity “is not merely a question of helping others — it is good to do so, but it is more than that — it is a matter of justice,” he said.
This solidarity is always threatened by “power groups” and personal self-interest, the pope insisted, which divide people.
“We build towers and skyscrapers, but we destroy community. We unify buildings and languages, but we mortify cultural wealth,” he said. “We want to be masters of the Earth, but we ruin biodiversity and ecological balance.”
Solidarity also requires a shift in vision and priorities, he continued, returning the human person to the center of our concerns.
“When shares fall in the financial markets, all the agencies report the news,” he said. “Thousands of people fall due to hunger and poverty, and no-one talks about it.”
The disunity symbolized by the biblical Tower of Babel is overcome by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Francis said.
“The Spirit creates unity in diversity; He creates harmony. In the account of the Tower of Babel, there is no harmony; only pressing forward in order to earn,” he said.
“With Pentecost, God makes Himself present and inspires the faith of the community united in diversity and in solidarity,” he said.
“Therefore, solidarity today is the road to take towards a post-pandemic world, towards the healing of our interpersonal and social sicknesses,” Francis said. “There is no other way.”
“In the midst of crises, a solidarity guided by faith enables us to translate the love of God in our globalised culture” by “interweaving communities and sustaining processes of growth that are truly human and solid,” he said.
After his address, the unmasked pope walked about to greet the pilgrims and tourists.