The Pope has challenged the world to be “united” in a commitment “not to give in to indifference”.

Driving the news

Though he is presently on a trip to Thailand and Japan, Francis sent a video message November 21 to the Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church in the Italian city of Verona, on the theme “Being present: social polyphony”.

Reflecting on the topic of the meet, the Pope stressed the importance of “closeness, sharing, accompaniment or simply being close to someone”.

“Presence has a decisive efficacy that we have all experienced because we all know the difference between being alone and having someone next to us”, Francis recalled.

Go deeper

The Pope urged participants in the Verona conference to combat the “isolation” of the excluded in society “and to let that human heat reach us that enlivens the existence of those we meet”.

Highlighting the need for a “relational dynamic that ignites life”, Francis pleaded for people to keep their eyes open to the marginalised, poor, discarded, and exploited.

“Not seeing them is the quickest way to avoid problems; yet they are there and, even if we pretend not to see them, they exist”, the pontiff underlined.

“To be present means to take the initiative, to take the first step, to go towards the encounter, to arrive at the crossroads where the many excluded are found”.

Why it matters

Francis exhorted Catholics to be “a widespread presence that inhabits all places, bringing tenderness and functioning as a leaven”.

“Immersed in the dough of humanity ready to take care of the brothers”, he said.

For that the Pope recommended three actions – seestoptouch – to help us “to come out of ourselves, and [make] us face life as it presents itself”.

“To solve problems you do not need great managers or strong men, but you need to be united in your commitment not to give in to indifference”, Francis explained.

“Each person, with his or her own qualities and gifts, can become a builder of fraternity”, the Pope said.

“The world changes not if someone works miracles, but if everyone does what they have to do every day.

“Lasting change always starts from the bottom up, it is never just a top-down operation.

“Everyone is needed to rebuild the social fabric and perceive the strength of being a people.

“From this point of view, all are important: the sick, the poor, the child, the elderly person, the worker, the professional, the entrepreneur, the learned and the ignorant”.

For the record

The Pope concluded his message with a plea “not to curb the freedom to do good”.

Italy, like the world, advances “because many people in silence live honestly, work, act in solidarity, take care of those in need”, he added.

Within that tapestry, the Pope encouraged Catholics to be “weavers of a social fabric in which presence becomes a gift that makes the beauty of brotherhood shine out”.

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