“Francis is the first to bear witness to his proposals, he is the Apostle of the Word and deeds, credible and concrete. In his hands the Gospel becomes the unceasing life-bestowing inspiration: a living and thriving word, capable of inexhaustibly generating a new story.” The words of Msgr. Stefano Russo, Secretary General of the Italian Bishops Conference, ahead of the Day of Charity of the Pope that will be celebrated on Sunday June 30.
Your Excellency, how important is the Pope’s example with regard to charity?
I think it is a widespread experience to feel not only guided by the Pope’s words but also to feel involved by him in an in-depth dialogue that grows intimate. It’s as if Francis were not addressing everyone indistinctly but were speaking directly to my heart, looking me in the eyes.
His style is the voice of a person that is familiar to us; he knows how to find the right ways, the expressions and moments for us to listen and usher in ever new horizons.
And his gestures are as eloquent as his words: they inseparably complement the witness borne to the world and to the Church by this courageous proclaimer of the Gospel.
Thus the Holy Father is the first to trace the journey…
Citing an image that is dear to him, the Pope is the shepherd who precedes us; he knows how to stand by our side, following our own pace, we find him behind us when needed, ready to support us if we stumble, to encourage us when the road goes uphill, to assist us in a warm and strong embrace…
The Church is always in her forefront of her mission for charity.
When we are open to receive the Pope’s daily teachings we develop a natural yearning to support apostolic commitment.
The Holy Father counts, above all, on the support of our prayers, as he asks of us on the occasion of every meeting; at the same time, he also needs the material help that our communities can assure him.
The Pope’s Day of Charity offers us the opportunity to grasp and hold the hand stretched out by Francis, thereby giving greater strength to each of his gestures of solidarity. By sharing, we allow him to bring his heart where wounded humanity is calling for help – in our cities as in the whole world – with the poor and those “discarded” by society, those hurt by life and those who were forced to leave everything behind because of violence or persecution, poverty, and war.
Are also dioceses called to respond to this calling?
We are entrusted with the opportunity to share the missionary zeal of the Pope to embrace humanity and the infinite material needs of those inhabiting social, geographic and spiritual peripheries.
In 2018, the offerings of Italian dioceses to the Holy See amounted to 2,104,765.30 euros; the sum received by the Holy See in compliance with canon 1271 of the Code of Canon Law amounted to 4,025,275 euros: 3,999,925 euros from CEI, 20,250 from the archdiocese of Genoa; 5,000 euros from the diocese of Lamezia Terme. To these sums must be added an additional contribution of 100,000 given by CEI to the Charity of the Pope allocated to a specific recipient.