This morning Pope Francis received, in the Clementine Hall, some 200 people of the Arché Foundation, conceived some thirty years ago by Father Giuseppe Bettoni, to support mothers with children in difficulty in bringing about social, housing, and work autonomy. As the Holy Father mentioned, in a few days’ time the Arché Foundation will open a new house in Rome, where the families of the Casa Marzia community will be hosted and the Foundation’s offices will be transferred.
Here is the Pope’s address to the Arché Foundation.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you for having come to tell me your story, not only with words but with faces and presence. I thank Father Giuseppe Bettoni for his introduction and, especially, for his work in these thirty years — but <it seems> you began to work from your First Communion? [he laughs, all laugh] When you began your commitment to welcome mothers and children. You called it “Arché, which recalls the origin, the beginning, and we know that in the beginning there was Love, God’s love. All that is life, all that is beautiful, good and true comes from there, from God who is love, as human life comes from the heart and womb of a mother, and how from the heart and womb of a Mother Jesus came, who is Love made flesh, made man.
For the Poor and with the Poor
And then, in this logic, in the beginning, there are faces: for you, they are the faces of those mothers and those children you have welcomed and helped to free themselves from the scourge of violence and mistreatment; also migrant women who bear tragic experiences in their flesh. Your welcoming communities are signs of hope first of all for them, for these women and for their children. But they are also so for you yourselves who share life with them, and for the volunteers, the young people, the young couples that in this community have the experience of service, not only for the poor — something that is very good — but it’s even more good with the poor.
The Mother with the Child is a very familiar icon for us Christians. For you it’s not just a beautiful picture: you have translated it into a concrete experience, made of concrete stories and faces. This certainly means problems, difficulties, efforts . . . But, at the same time, it means joy, joy to see that sharing opens ways of freedom, rebirth, dignity. I thank you for this, dear brothers and sisters, and I bless you so that you can go forward for as long as the Lord wills.
I am grateful, in particular, also in the name of the Diocese of Rome, because I know that day after tomorrow you will open your house here in Rome, a house that will host a new community. May it be a place where God’s style is lived, which is closeness, tenderness, and compassion. And may the house be always at the service of people, not the contrary. May the Holy Spirit renew in you always the joy of the Gospel, and may Our Lady protect you. Remember, pray also for me. Thank you!