‘Faith and Light,’ A Diversity ‘Prophecy’

Pope Francis’ Address

Faith and Light
Meeting Pope Movement "Foi et Lumière" © Vatican Media

“The presence of Foi et Lumière [Faith and Light] has been and is a prophecy because often the most fragile people are discarded, considered useless. And your prophecy is even more important today, to combat the throwaway culture and to remind all that diversity is a richness and must never become a motive for exclusion and discrimination,” said Pope Francis.

On Saturday, October 2, 2021, Pope Francis received in audience, in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, the members of the International Faith and Light Movement. As stated on its Webpage, Faith and Light, born in the ’60s, is a Movement of “communities of encounter made up of people with mental disabilities, their families and friends, especially young people, who get together regularly to share, from a Christian perspective, their friendship, to pray together and to celebrate life.”

Here is the Pontiff’s address offered by the Holy See Press Office.

* * *

The Pope’s Address

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

I welcome you and I thank Mr. Raul Izquierdo Garcia for his words of presentation. You are celebrating your Jubilee: it is a beautiful occasion of grace, to acknowledge the gifts that the Lord has given you over these years of journeying and to express your gratitude to Him. And, at the same time, this Jubilee becomes also an opportunity to look to the future, to the task that the Holy Spirit continues to entrust to you and to the fruits that the Church continues to expect from Faith and Light, given the vocation and mission that it has received from the Lord.

Fifty years have gone by since that pilgrimage to Lourdes at Easter in 1971, to which people with mental disabilities, their families, and many friends were invited. Under Mary’s loving gaze, from that moment Faith and Light’s experience began: the Holy Spirit suggested the birth of something that no one had foreseen, namely,  your communities, in which you celebrate joy, reconciliation, and mutual communion. Thus, the light and strength of the Risen Lord have given hope to so many people who felt excluded and rejected, sometimes even in the Church.

From that moment, the Holy Spirit accompanied your Movement’s journey and many “Faith and Light’ communities were born in many countries of five Continents, bringing a message of love and hospitality. This message is the heart of the Gospel. It reminds us that every person, also and especially the smallest and most fragile, is loved by God and has a place in the Church and in the world. It is the “Gospel of littleness,” as Saint Paul reminds us when he writes to the Corinthians: “For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth, but God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

The presence of Faith and Light has been and is a prophecy because often the most fragile people are rejected, considered useless. And your prophecy is even more important today, to combat the throwaway culture and to remind all that diversity is a richness and must never become a motive of exclusion and discrimination.

These fifty years of life of Faith and Light can be seen as a great pilgrimage, as an ideal continuation of the first pilgrimage. And it is also an ecumenical journey because in your communities there are people of different Christian Confessions: Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Orthodox . . . A sign of communion, a concrete seed of unity. It is, in fact, the most fragile people that become a source of reconciliation, because they call all of us to a journey of conversion.

The section of the road you have traveled is long and full of fruits, but still today, in the Church and in the world, there are so many that in their littleness and fragility are forgotten and excluded. Therefore, I encourage you to continue, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, your hospitable presence; may your communities be always places of encounter, of human promotion, and of celebration for all those that still feel marginalized and abandoned. Be a sign of hope for families that live the birth of a disabled child, so that no one encloses himself in sadness and despair.

Within the Christian communities, I invite you to have the evangelical style of leaven: don’t isolate yourselves and don’t close yourselves; instead, take part in the life of the Church in the parishes and neighborhoods, contribute your experience and give witness of God’s option for the last, the little ones, the excluded. May the spirit of communion and friendship, which is part of your charism, make you always instruments of reconciliation and peace, especially where there are conflicts and divisions.

The emblem that represents your experience, your “logo,” a boat on a rough sea, while the sun emerges from the clouds after the storm. During this pandemic, I have often recalled, thinking of the evangelical episode of the disciples in the storm, that we are all in the same boat; and that’s why I confirm you in your commitment: be, in the storms that people and families live, a small boat in which all can find a place, with the certainty that the Lord Jesus is in that same boat. May the sun of faith and hope, which emerges from the clouds of our fears and insecurities, accompany you always on the road that still awaits you. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin protect you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester