Money is not enough to solve the problems of society, Pope Francis said during a February 5 audience in Rome with a delegation of Italian mayors.
“Sometimes people are under the illusion that adequate funding is enough to solve problems,” the pope said. “It is not true— in reality, we also need a plan for civil coexistence and citizenship: we need to invest in beauty where there is most degradation, in education where social unease reigns…in training for legality where corruption prevails.”
Francis said the coronavirus pandemic has illustrated this truth.
“The pandemic has brought to light so many frailties, but also the generosity of volunteers, neighbors, health workers and administrators who have gone out of their way to alleviate the suffering and loneliness of the poor and elderly,” he said. “This network of supportive relationships is a treasure that must be preserved and strengthened.”
The pope encouraged the mayors to prioritize listening to their constituents and he likened their role to that of a parent.
“Do not be afraid to ‘waste time’ listening to people and their problems,” he said. “Good listening helps in discernment, to understand the priorities in which to intervene.”
“And along with listening, the courage of imagination must not be lacking,” the pope continued. “Knowing how to dream of a better city and sharing the dream with other local administrators, with those elected to the city council and with all citizens of good will is a marker of social care. And this is in part the task of the mayor or mayoress.”
He warned the mayors to avoid neglecting the poor in their cities, who he described as “the wealth of a city.”
“This might seem to some to be cynical: no, it isn’t, they – the poor – remind us of our frailty and that we need each other,” he said.
The men and women were members of the National Association of Italian Municipalities. They met with Pope Francis in the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
The pope characterized the audience as a moment of reflection for the mayors and thanked them for their leadership through the past two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
“You have been a point of reference in enforcing the regulations, at times burdensome but necessary for the health of citizens,” the pope said. “Your presence has been instrumental in encouraging people to keep looking forward.”
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