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Vatican Embassy celebrates 11th anniversary of election of Pope Francis

The Vatican embassy held a solemn celebration at the Holy Family Co-cathedral on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of the election to the Papacy of His Holiness Pope Francis.

A large gathering of diplomats and faithful attended the Holy Mass in celebration of the anniversary. H E Archbishop Eugene Nugent in his address pointed out that at the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope Francis appealed to the people of the whole world to be guardians of creation and guardians to each other. He implored young people to reject violence and extremism in all its forms and to always seek the God of peace.

He further added “I believe these are still the key points of his papacy and the main themes of his international outreach. Just ten days ago, at the Angelus prayer at the Vatican, he made another heartfelt appeal for an end to the war in Gaza and Ukraine, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an urgent supply of humanitarian aid to the long-suffering population of the territory.”

Archbishop Eugene stated that on a personal level he remembered Pope Francis visiting a prison on Holy Thursday soon after he was elected Pope in 2013 and washing the feet of prisoners. And then, the next year, 2014, washing the feet of women. I recall his concern for the poor and for the environment. I am moved by his call to walk with, accompany, and listen to all our brothers and sisters in a synodal process, embracing the smell of the sheep, walking together, listening to one another, deepening our faith and our love of the Church.

He added that one of the highlights of his mission so far as Nuncio in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar was to welcome His Holiness to Bahrain in November 2022 which was a moment of great joy for all of us here in the Vicariate of Northern Arabia and beyond.

Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has often spoken about the poor, the people on the peripheries of society, particularly migrants and refugees, not only showing deep compassion, but seeking to develop a radical vision that provides an alternative approach to the mainstream, putting the marginalized people
in the center of the response.

Every Pope speaks to the people of his time and Pope Francis is no exception. Ever since he became Pope, the Holy Father has called on the Church to be more open: he has called on us priests not to be afraid to go out to the peripheries and embrace the odour of the sheep; he has called on lay people to rediscover the beauty of our baptism as the holy people of God.

Pope Francis has been able to transmit to the local Churches his concerns and has also been able to go beyond the Catholic audience, inspiring women and men of other faiths or non-believers, who have discovered in the Christian message many shared values. One of these values is clearly the need for ‘encounter’ as the way to rightly interconnect the dislocated parts of the world where the poor, the marginalized and refugees are invisible into a reconciled world where relationships and community bring them to the center.

Last year I attended an international conference sponsored by the UN in Doha on the Least Developed Countries (the LDC,s). We talked a lot but, sadly, with very little if any tangible results. Having spent five years as Nuncio in Madagascar and six years in Haiti, I can assure you that there is nothing romantic about being poor. Living in squalor, in misery, with no access to decent housing, no electricity, no access to education, no clean water or health care, when every day is a struggle to survive, the poor cry out to us but sadly their cries remain unheard for the most part.

In his journey with the poor, the marginalized and displaced people, Pope Francis seems to tell us how they offer us an opportunity to discover hidden parts of humanity and deepen our understanding of the complexities of this world. It is through the poor, migrants and refugees that we are invited to meet God and find a just model for our societies that provides a future for everyone, “even though our eyes find it hard to recognize Him in them”.

Eleven years is a significant span of time for any leader and this evening’s Eucharistic celebration is a fitting occasion to give thanks to our heavenly Father for having given us Pope Francis as the Head of the Catholic Church who is also a moral leader for people of other faiths and none.



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