Local visits, universal messages

A round up of some of Pope Francis’ most significant visits of 2013

Aside from his official visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, Pope Francis’ most significant visits of 2013 beyond the city of Rome were all to Italian territories.

On July 8, the Pope drew international attention to the tiny island of Lampedusa, when he travelled to visit the many migrants for whom the Italian-controlled island, a little over 100 kms from the coast of Tunisia, is their goal in seeking entry to Europe from a host of African nations.

The Pope’s arrival was preceded a few hours earlier by the latest group of migrants – 165, drawn mainly from Mali – who were escorted to shore by the coastguard.

Speaking later during an outdoor Mass, Pope Francis chided the indifference of the wider world to the plight of migrants, many of whom died in their desperate attempts to reach Lampedusa.

“Who is responsible for the blood of these brothers and sisters of ours? All of us respond: ‘It wasn’t me. I have nothing to do with it. It was others, certainly not me.’

“Today no one feels responsible for this. We have lost a sense of fraternal responsibility. Maybe we think, ‘Oh, poor soul,’ but we continue on our way.”


Denouncing the “the globalisation of indifference”, the Pope added: “The culture of well-being, which leads us to think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of others.”

Lampedusa would subsequently make international headlines on October 3 when a packed migrant boat en route to the island caught fire and sank, claiming more than 300 lives.

Offering prayers for the dead, the Pontiff urged the world to do more “to ensure that such tragedies are not repeated”.

The issue of globalisation was again a prominent feature of the Pontiff’s September 22 trip to the island of Sardinia, hit especially hard by the worldwide economic downturn.

Addressing a gathering of some 20,000 people in the city of Cagliari during his 10-hour visit, Pope Francis decried the economic crisis as a “consequence of a global choice, of an economic system that led to this tragedy, an economic system centred on an idol, which is called money”.


“We want a just system, a system that lets all of us get ahead,” he said. “We don’t want this globalised economic system that does us so much harm. At its centre there should be man and woman, as God wants, and not money.”

The question of acceptable systems was one the Pope would pose for the Church itself as he undertook his October 4 visit to the shrine of his namesake at Assisi.

In a room linked to the moment St Francis stripped himself of his possessions and dedicated himself to the service of the poor, the Pontiff, laying aside his prepared address said, “this is a good occasion to invite the Church to strip itself of worldliness”.


“Worldliness brings us to vanity, arrogance, pride and these are idols. All of us have to strip ourselves of this worldliness,” he explained. “The Church, all of us should divest ourselves of worldliness. Worldliness is a murderer because it kills souls, kills people, kills the Church. Without divesting ourselves, we would become pastry-shop Christians, like beautiful cakes and sweet things but not real Christians,” the Pope said.