Pope Francis on Sunday asked the faithful to pray for victims of floods in Serbia and Bosnia as at least 40 people are reported killed and tens of thousands evacuated in what has been branded the worst flooding on record across the Balkans.
Speaking after the Regina Coeli prayer to some 50,000 people present in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said that large areas in the Balkans have been devastated by flooding. He expressed his closeness to those who are living moments of anguish and adversity, and he urged those present to pray for our brothers and sisters who are in such difficulty.
The Pope’s appeal followed a discourse to the faithful in which he pointed out that conflict within the Church is to be resolved “with confrontation, discussion and prayer”. He said that problems must be faced openly and words must be based on certainties, as gossip and envy never lead to harmony and peace.
Pope Francis pointed out that the Holy Spirit is here to lead us on a path of serene dialogue. The Holy Spirit – he said – brings harmony, unity and respect for diverse gifts and talents.
And he recalled that even in the beginning, within the Church there existed tensions and dissent – just as they do today in our parishes.
There are conflicts in life – he said – the problem is in how we tackle them.
And he explained that when the faithful underwent the change from the Jewish culture to a more open culture and to Christianity – that Jesus, he said, destined to all peoples – the first difficulties arose. They included malcontent, complaints and gossip regarding favoritism and help for those most in need. That’s when the Apostles called a meeting with the disciples to talk “all together”.
Problems – Francis said – cannot be resolved by pretending they do not exist!
And the open confrontation between pastors and other faithful is a good and beautiful thing.
That meeting resulted in a “sharing out of duties”: the Apostles decided to dedicate themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. Seven deacons – “honest men with a good reputation, filled with the Holy Spirit and with wisdom” – dedicated themselves to aiding the poor.
After his appeal for the victims of flooding in the Balkans, Pope Francis greeted some 50,000 Romanian pilgrims in the Square and recalled the Beatification, on Saturday, in Romania of Bishop Anton Durcovic, a martyr of the faith who was persecuted by the Romanian Communist regime and who died in prison in 1951.
The Pope concluded with a special greeting and words of encouragement for the associations of volunteers on the Italian Day for cancer patients and their families for whom he had prayers and words of comfort.