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Pope Francis prays for ‘witness of charity,’ Catholic priest killed in Italy

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by Hannah Brockhaus

Vatican City, Sep 16, 2020 / 05:15 am MT (CNA).- Pope Francis Wednesday led a moment of silent prayer for Fr. Roberto Malgesini, a 51-year-old priest who was stabbed to death in Como, Italy, Sept. 15.

“I join in the pain and prayers of his family members and the Como community and, as his bishop said, I praise God for the witness, that is, for the martyrdom, of this witness of charity towards the poorest,” Pope Francis said at the general audience Sept. 16.

Malgesini was known for his care for the homeless and migrants in the northern Italian diocese. He was killed Tuesday near his parish, St. Rocco’s Church, by one of the migrants he helped.

Speaking to pilgrims in the Vatican’s San Damaso Courtyard, the pope noted that Malgesini was killed “by a person in need whom he himself helped, a person with a mental illness.”

Pausing for a moment of silent prayer, he asked those present to pray for Fr. Roberto and for “all the priests, sisters, lay people who work with people in need and rejected by society.”

In his general audience catechesis, Pope Francis said that exploitation of God’s creation in nature and exploitation of people went hand-in-hand.

“There is one thing that we must not forget: those who do not know how to contemplate nature and creation do not know how to contemplate people in their richness,” he said. “Whoever lives to exploit nature ends up exploiting people and treating them as slaves.”

Pope Francis spoke during his third general audience to include the presence of pilgrims since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

He continued his catechesis on the theme of healing the world after the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting on Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.”

Francis emphasized the difference between working the land to live and to develop it and exploitation.

“Exploiting creation: this is sin,” he stated.

According to the pope, one way to cultivate the proper attitude and approach to nature is “to recover the contemplative dimension.”

“When we contemplate, we discover in others and in nature something far greater than their usefulness,” he explained. “We discover the intrinsic value of things bestowed on them by God.”

“This is a universal law: if you do not know how to contemplate nature, it will be very difficult for you to know how to contemplate people, the beauty of people, your brother, your sister,” he said.

He noted that many spiritual teachers have taught how contemplation of the sky, earth, sea, and creatures has the capacity to “bring us back to the Creator and to communion with creation.”

Pope Francis also referenced St. Ignatius of Loyola, who, at the end of his spiritual exercises, invites people to carry out “contemplation to reach love.”

This is, the pope explained, “to consider how God looks at his creatures and rejoice with them; to discover the presence of God in his creatures and, with freedom and grace, to love and care for them.”

Contemplation and care are two attitudes which help “correct and rebalance our relationship as human beings with creation,” he added.

He described this relationship as “fraternal,” in a figurative sense.

This relationship with creation helps us to become “guardians of the common home, guardians of life and guardians of hope,” he said. “We will guard the heritage that God has entrusted to us so that future generations can enjoy it.”

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