Live from Assisi
First, with Francis having touched down a half-hour ahead of schedule – an unheard-of stat for papal travel – the morning's moving first stop at a center for sick and disabled kids:
And then the Pope's midmorning homage at the tomb of Francis in the hilltop Basilica, before the feast-day Mass in the portico outside with a crowd estimated at 100,000-plus sprawled along the grounds:
Next up on the public slate are a 3.15pm local meeting with representatives of the diocese – notably including parish pastoral councils alongside clergy and religious – followed by a prayer at the tomb of St Clare and visit with the cloistered Poor Clare sisters in residence at her basilica.
At Santa Chiara, Francis will likewise venerate the original San Damiano cross, from which the Poverello received the call to "repair [God's] house." As in Cagliari last week, the day will then wrap up with a Q&A gathering for young people.
In the latter turn, before an audience of the local poor served by Catholic charitable efforts, the Pope – noting that his visit to the stripping site marked the first-ever papal stop there – spontaneously lampooned the "fantasies" circulated in Italian conversations over recent weeks that he would use the moment to "strip the church."
Acknowledging that "this is a good moment to invite the church to strip itself," Francis clarified the thought by adding that – for the church to "strip itself" – "the church is all of us!"
"But what must the church strip itself of?" he asked. Replying with another of his frequently-cited concepts, "it must strip itself today of a gravest of dangers, which threatens every person in the church, all: the danger of worldliness. The Christian cannot live together with the spirit of the world. Worldliness that brings us to vanity, to bullying, to pride. And this is an idol, it is not God. It's an idol! And idolatry is the strongest of sins!"
"Many of you have been stripped by this savage world, one which doesn't give work, which doesn't help; which doesn't care that there are babies dying of hunger in the world; doesn't care if many families don't have enough to eat and don't have the dignity of [being able to] bring home bread; doesn't care that many people still need to flee slavery, hunger and escape to seek their freedom."
Francis cited a consequence of said worldliness: yesterday's shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa, where the death-toll of African migrants seeking to reach the Italian island – which the Pope visited in July – is believed to have exceeded 200.
"It is a day of tears!" the pontiff said.
"It's rightly ridiculous that a Christian – a true Christian – that a priest, a sister, a bishop, a cardinal, that a Pope would want to go on the road of this worldliness," Francis said, terming it "a homicidal attachment.... It kills souls! It kills people! It kills the church!"
"Today, here, let us ask this grace for all Christians – that the Lord gives to all of us the courage to renounce ourselves, but not of 20 lira, to strip ourselves of the spirit of the world, which is leprosy, is the cancer of society! It's the cancer of the revelation of God! The spirit of the world is the enemy of Jesus Christ!"
On a side-note, having spent most of the week clad in house cassock for the inaugural meeting of Francis' Council of Cardinals, on accompanying the Pope to his community's hometown, Boston's Capuchin Cardinal Sean O'Malley returned to wearing his usual habit.