Security at World Youth Day has always been an issue. When millions of people gather for a public event, in general, security can be a challenge. Add to this the fact that the pope will be on the scene and the concerns about safety grow drastically.
But Pope Francis doesn’t seem to be very concerned about security at all. On the streets of Rio de Janeiro, he appeared to relish in the fact that his car made a wrong turn and people mobbed the vehicle to try to touch him or just get a glimpse of him.
After a week of what could be a draining non-stop schedule of events, Pope Francis, in his late 70s, was fed by the energy of the young people who surrounded him:
This trip has been very good; spiritually, it has done me good … meeting people always does good, as in doing so we receive many good things from others. With less security, I was able to stay with the people, to embrace them, greet them, without armored cars … it is the security of trusting in people … yes, there’s always the danger of encountering a madman, but then there is always the Lord who protects us, isn’t there? It is also madness to separate a bishop from his people, and I prefer this kind of madness
In today’s world, we often live in fear. And Pope Francis wants us to understand that we need not fear one another. I’ve been writing a series of posts on my personal blog about the George Zimmerman verdict and death of Trayvon Martin, which include reflection on my own fear of growing up in a dangerous neighborhood. I was taught to fear the other in that neighborhood and there is good and bad in that fear. After all, there are madmen and people who do wish to do others harm in the world. However, the pope also sees madness in this fear. Fear separates us and keeps us in armored cars and behind locked doors. Fear stops dialogue and hinders work for peace in the world. Fear keeps rival gangs shooting at one another instead of coming together to solve the problems of poverty and crime in their neighborhoods and working for peace and justice.
Pope Francis has seen that fear and knows the results of it. All those years of visiting people who lived in the slums of Argentina have changed him. The experiences have given the pope a heart for the poor that does not allow the walls of fear to separate him from the people who need him. Those that have no voice need to see that the pope will be their voice. They need to see that the pope will be present to them.
Check this out:
Enough said. Way to go, Papa Francisco. Enjoy the quiet for a few days. You earned it.