Pope Francis visited an Albanian center for abandoned children on Sunday, emphasizing in his remarks that Christian charity can help bring oneself and others closer to God. “This faith, working through charity, dislodges the mountains of indifference, of disbelief and of apathy, and opens hands and hearts to work for what is good and share this experience,” the Pope said in an evening speech Sept. 21. “Through humble gestures and simple acts of service to the least among us, the Good News that Jesus is risen and lives among us is proclaimed.” “We see how faith brings light and hope in situations of grave hardship; we observe how faith is rekindled in hearts touched by the Spirit of Jesus who said, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me’.” Pope Francis’ remarks came at the Bethany Center in Albania’s capital city Tirana. The center cares for abandoned children and adolescents. He also met with representatives from other charities in Albania. The Pope said that the center’s work shows that it is possible for people of different ethnicities and religions “to live together peacefully and fraternally.” “Here differences do not prevent harmony, joy and peace, but rather become occasions for a greater mutual awareness and understanding,” he said. “The variety of religious experiences reveals a true and reverential love of neighbor; each religious community expresses itself through love and not violence, and is never ashamed of showing goodness!” Pope Francis stressed the importance of doing good. “Goodness is its own reward and draws us closer to God, who is the Supreme Good. It helps us to think like him, to see our lives in the light of his plan of love for each one of us, and enables us to delight in life’s daily joys, helping us in difficulties and in trials,” the Pope explained. The Pope’s remarks included a bracing warning about the dangers of worldly wealth and power. “Goodness offers infinitely more than money, which only deludes, because we have been created to receive the love of God and to offer it, not measuring everything in terms of money or power,” he said. People “who frantically seek the key to existence in earthly riches, possessions and amusements” instead discover “estrangement and bewilderment.” He said that giving of oneself “for the love of Jesus” gives birth to joy and hope while showing “how serving one’s brothers and sisters is transformed into an experience of sharing God’s kingdom.” “The secret to a good life is found in loving and giving oneself for love’s sake. From here comes the strength to ‘sacrifice oneself joyfully,’ and thus the most demanding work is transformed into a source of a greater joy.” “May the Lord Jesus and his Mother, the Virgin Mary, bless your association, this Bethany Center and the other centers which love has initiated and providence has built,” he said, asking for blessings on all volunteers, benefactors, and the children and adolescents the center serves.
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