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Pope Francis: audience, tribute to Saint John Paul II, “Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!”

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

“Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!”. These are the words of Saint John Paul II – whose 40th anniversary of the election to the See of Peter was celebrated yesterday – recalled by Pope Francis in his greetings to the Polish-speaking faithful. “Let us put our hands together for Saint John Paul II!”, the Pontiff said off the cuff, greeted with a round of applause from the 18,000 faithful present in St. Peter’s Square today. “The words he spoke at the beginning of his Pontificate are always topical”, Pope Francis went on to say, paying tribute to his predecessor: “May they continue to inspire our social, family, and personal life; may they encourage us to faithfully follow Christ, and to perceive His presence in the world and in our brothers and sisters, especially in the poor and the needy. Indeed, as the Polish Pope taught us, man is the way of the Church”. Then, in his greetings to the Italian-speaking faithful that usually mark the end of his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis recalled the figure of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr in Rome: “Let us learn from this holy bishop from ancient Syria how to bear courageous witness to our faith”, through “the strength of perseverance, despite adversity and persecution”.

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