God's love in charity exists even in most secularized places, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

times of freedom or persecution, the Gospel is needed to bring meaning,
fullness and hope to life, Pope Francis said.

Speaking about his Sept. 22-25 visit to Lithuania, Latvia and
Estonia, the pope said
he visited these Baltic nations as they celebrated the 100th anniversary of
their declarations of independence.

However, during these past 100 years, these countries
have experienced “the yoke of occupation,” beginning with the Nazis
and then the Soviet Union, the pope said at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 26.

During his visit, the pope paid homage to the Jewish victims of
the Holocaust in Lithuania, which saw more than 95 percent of its Jewish
population murdered, and he visited a former Soviet KGB headquarters that is
now a museum dedicated to victims of genocide, foreign occupations and
political resistance.

“I stopped in prayer in the rooms where opponents of
the regime were detained, tortured and killed. They killed 40 people, more or
less, a night,” he said, noting how upsetting it was to see how cruel human
beings could be. “Let us think about that.”

The situation in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is very
different now compared to when St. John Paul II visited in 1993,
“therefore, my mission was to newly proclaim to these people the joy of
the Gospel and the revolution of mercy, of tenderness because freedom (by
itself) is not enough to give meaning and fullness to life without love, the
love that comes from God.”

During difficult, trying times, he said, the Gospel
“gives strength and enlivens the struggle for freedom.”

During times of freedom, he added, the Gospel “is
the light” showing the way for people’s daily journey, and it is “the salt” giving ordinary life flavor and preserving it from “the corruption of mediocrity
and selfishness.”

A strong sign of the Gospel being alive is seeing concrete
works of charity, he said.

Even where secularization has hit hardest, the pope said,
“God speaks with the language of love, of care, of selfless service to
those who are in need. And then hearts open up and miracles happen. In deserts,
new life blooms.”

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