This coming summer, Pope Francis will make two pastoral visits inside of Italy, following two previous trips to the Italian cities of Assisi and Lampedusa. In an April 5 announcement, the Holy See revealed that the pontiff has accepted an invitation to visit Calabria and Molise during the months of June and July. Both visits will take place on Saturdays. The Pope is slated to travel to Cassano all'Jonio June 21, and to Campobasso and Isernia July 5, which confirms a previous statement made by Bishop Nuncio Galantino of Cassano all'Jonio, secretary-general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which revealed that the pontiff had voiced his intention to visit the nuncio's diocese. The archdiocese of Campobasso-Boiano, which Pope Francis will also visit, is led by Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, who is known for his commitment to fight against organized crime. Archbishop Bregantini was recently appointed by the Pope to write the meditations for Good Friday's traditional Via Crucis, which is scheduled to take place at the Colosseum the evening of April 18. Previous pastoral visits the Roman Pontiff has made inside of Italy include a trip to the island of Lampedusa last July to pray for immigrants who died in an attempt to reach the destination, as well as a visit to the small town of Assisi in October to commemorate the feast day of his patron saint. While in Lampedusa, Pope Francis spoke of the need to “reawaken” our consciences because often times the “culture of comfort” that we live in leads us to ignore the suffering of others. “In this globalized world,” he expressed in the July 8 visit, “we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business.” Asking those present during the Mass who is responsible for the blood of those who have died and noting that many answer immediately “nobody,” or “it’s not me,” the pontiff prayed that all might obtain “the grace to weep over our indifference.” “To weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts, and of all those who in anonymity make social and economic decisions which open the door to tragic situations like this.” During his Oct. 4 Mass in Assisi last year, Pope Francis reflected that true peace can only be found by drawing closer to the Crucified Lord and by having a relationship with him. “What is the peace which (Saint) Francis received, experienced and lived, and which he passes on to us? It is the peace of Christ, which is born of the greatest love of all, the love of the cross,” he observed. Reflecting on how often times people associate peace with the great saint of Assisi, the pontiff urged the Mass participants to go deeper, as few do, into the peace which St. Francis “received, experienced and lived,” which is “the peace of Christ” that comes from “the love of the Cross.” The Bishop of Rome ended his homily by praying that all might “respect creation” and “not be instruments of destruction!” “Let us respect each human being,” he insisted, asking that there might be an end to the armed conflicts “which cover the earth with blood; may the clash of arms be silenced; and everywhere may hatred yield to love, injury to pardon and discord to unity.”
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