(Vatican Radio) Some 12,000 priests, men and women religious, consecrated laypeople and seminarians with their families crowded into Medellin’s “La Macarena” event centre on Friday to listen to Pope Francis’ thoughts, proposals and instructions regarding their ministry.
On the podium, the relics of Saint Mother Laura Montoya, a nun who was the first female Colombian Saint. Canonized by Pope Francis himself in 2013, Mother Laura was a teacher and prolific author who hosted classes in her own home when the 1895 civil war in Colombia forced schools to close.
And in the presence of the relics of this inspiring figure, the Pope put his long text of prepared remarks aside, and engaged with his audience who rose to the occasion reacting enthusiastically to his exhortations and comments.
In a town – Medellin – which used to be the reign of the powerful drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar, Pope Francis pointed his finger against the drug traffickers of today who, he said, continue to destroy the lives of so many young people.
He asked those present to pray for a conversion of the hearts of the traffickers, to ask forgiveness to the Lord for having ruined the lives of so many boys and girls, and to accompany the new generations on a path of rebirth and hope.
He touched on a theme that is dear to him warning the clergy that the devil too often finds its way into their hearts “through their wallets.”
“That’s how corruption spreads, he said, never be attached to material things.”
He told them it is not possible to serve both God and wealth and urged them never to take advantage of their condition as religious and of the generosity of the faithful in order to be served or to obtain material riches.
And in a powerful condemnation of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis decried “the poison of lies and hidden things”, the manipulation and abuse of God’s people, of the most fragile of God’s people, especially the elderly and children.
This poison, he said, “must find no space in our communities,” every dead branch must be severed.
Pope Francis concluded his animated address reminding all those who have received a spiritual vocation never to forget the joy with which they must live their mission.
In Colombia with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni.