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Pope Francis Pens Letter in Response to New Shrine of St. Francis

Matteo Ciofi

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pope Francis
CNS photo/Paul Haring
On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis sent a letter to the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, Domenico Sorrentino, offering his blessings and support for his decision to establish a shrine in memory of the “Spoliation” of St Francis on May 20, when he decided to renounce his wealth in favor of a life of poverty.
"The new Assisi Shrine is born as prophecy of a more just and supportive society," the pontiff wrote, "while it reminds the Church of her duty to live, in the footsteps of Francis, despoiling herself of worldliness, and clothing herself in the values of the Gospel."
This choice was made by the bishop at the end of the Holy Year of Mercy, but also in memory of the Holy Father’s visit to Assisi in October 2013, not long after his election as Pope.
For the Holy Father, who took on Francis’ name as “an ideal inspiration of [his] pontificate,” said, “the Hall of Spoliation made [him] relive with particular intensity that moment of the Saint’s life.”
The Pope added that Saint Francis made poverty the most evident sign of penance and renewal. “Christ is the original model of spoliation,” he said.
“The spoliation is a mystery of love!” the Holy Father said. “It does not show contempt for the reality of the world…One must be stripped, in essence, more than of things, of oneself, putting egoism aside which makes us defensive of our interests and our goods, impeding us from discovering the beauty of the other and the joy of opening our heart to him. A genuine Christian path does not lead to sadness, but to joy. In a world marked by so much ‘individualistic sadness’, the Shrine of the Spoliation intends to nourish in the Church, and in society, evangelical, simple, and supportive joy.”
In his letter, the Pope encouraged pastors to share this message to young people, to have no fear in proposing a life lived for God.  "They must be accompanied in the light of these values," the Pope wrote.
At the same time, adults are “called to come together in unity of intentions and sentiments, so that the Church’s character of family can emerge increasingly and the new generations feel themselves supported in their journey.”
Bishop Sorrentino commented on the letter saying it is a very important message and it will make them reflect. He explained, "this new Shrine is important for the community and for the pilgrims who go to Assisi. It places people in front of a reality: you cannot be Christians and ignore the Gospel. We all have to convert."

For more on the new Assisi Shrine, catch Vatican Connections Fridays at 8 pm ET!

Matteo Ciofi is a producer for Salt + Light's Italian-language Sale e Luce. Follow him on Twitter!

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