The Pope’s agenda on 4 August was filled with meetings with various people, culminating in the performance of the Way of the Cross.
Pope Francis’ second day in Portugal began early, at 09:00, when he travelled to the City of Joy, in Belém, where he confessed three young people in the Park of Forgiveness.
He then hit the road again to head to his next appointment, a visit to the Parish Social Centre of São Vicente de Paulo, in the Serafina neighbourhood. There he was welcomed with great enthusiasm by the residents, who, finding it impossible to enter the parish, took to the streets to see the Holy Father up close.
In the parish auditorium, the Pope met with two associations that provide social support services in the Serafina and Liberdade neighbourhoods: Ajuda de Berço and Acreditar. In a first intervention, the parish priest Francisco Crespo thanked Pope Francis for his visit to the parish – “We want to express our deep gratitude for the honour you have reserved for us with your visit. This gesture fills us with great joy and encourages us to always do more and better for those who need support and the love of Christ”.
Francis’ speech focused on the call to unity and concrete action, to help those most in need, and was marked by a break in the planned speech and a moment of “improvisation”, as he had difficulty reading.
“I would just like to say something that is not written here, but it is in the spirit. The concrete. There is no abstract love, only concrete love. Platonic love is in orbit, not in reality. Concrete love is the one that gets your hands dirty. And you can ask us: what about the love I feel for everyone? Is it concrete or abstract? When I hold hands with a needy person, a sick person, an outcast, can I then hold hands with other people and, without fear of contagion, am I disgusted by poverty? Am I always looking for a clean, distilled life, the one that exists in my fantasy but is not real? How many distilled and useless lives do we live without leaving a mark because the distilled life has no weight?” he said.
Even before leaving the Serafina neighbourhood, he visited the parish church, where he was able to greet those waiting for him.
Back at the Apostolic Nunciature, Pope Francis met with Zuhair Alharti, Secretary General of the Centre for International Dialogue – KAICIID, a meeting that converges with Francis’ constant action to promote interreligious dialogue. After this meeting, he had the opportunity to have lunch with some young pilgrims. Those who were there say that the conversation with the Holy Father about the problems of young people was “peaceful” and “good-humoured”.
In the afternoon, he met again with some religious leaders, before leaving the Nunciature to attend the Way of the Cross, the last central event held on the Hill of Encounter, in Eduardo VII Park.
The Way of the Cross ceremony began with a speech by the Pope in front of a crowd of around 800,000 people. The 14 stations, which represent Jesus’ condemnation to death, included reflections on topics such as intolerance, mental health and humanitarian crises.
“The logic is to walk in the footsteps of Jesus to Calvary, as young people: whenever we fall, know that Jesus helps us up and that we are not alone on this path,” says Joana Andrade, responsible for the spirituality of the week of WYD Lisbon 2023, in an interview with ECCLESIA Agency.
The general theme of the ceremony was the “vulnerability and fragility” that we all face daily.
Tomorrow, the 5th, will be the first time that Pope Francis will have events outside Lisbon on his agenda: a trip to Fatima, where he will pray the rosary with some young patients, in the Chapel of the Apparitions. In the evening, he will join more than a million young people in the Parque da Graça, to participate in the Vigil.