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Transform ‘deserts’ into ‘forests’ through friendship, Pope tells Focolare

April 25, 2016

Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the Villa Borghese in Rome on April 24 to address an Earth Day event cosponsored by the Focolare Movement.

Founded by the Servant of God Chiara Lubich (1920-2008), the movement seeks to promote a spirituality of unity in accord with Christ’s prayer for unity (Jn. 17:21).

In his extemporaneous remarks, Pope Francis called upon his audience not to ignore the plight of those in need but to transform the world’s interior deserts into forests.

“The desert is ugly, both the desert in the heart of all of us, as well as the desert in the city, in the peripheries, which is also an ugly thing,” he said. “There’s also a desert that’s in the gated neighborhoods. It’s ugly, but the desert is there too.”

Such deserts, he said, can be transformed into “forests” through the forgiveness and gratuity that are part of “social friendship.”

“Look at the faces of people when you go into the street: they’re worried, everyone is closed in on themselves, they lack a smile, in other words they lack tenderness, social friendship,” the Pope said.

 
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