“The significance of this apostolic trip can be condensed in three words: memory, hope and testimony”, said the Pope. In Korea, “the Church is the guardian of memory and hope”, he said. After remembering “the two main events” of the trip, namely the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs and the conclusion of the sixth Asian Youth Day, Pope Francis has highlighted that “the Church in Korea also carries the memory of the fundamental role of lay people both in the beginning of the faith and in the work of evangelisation. In that country, the Christian community was not founded by missionaries but by a group of young Koreans in the second half of the 18th century, who were attracted by some Christian writings. They studied them in depth and chose them as their rule of life. One of them was sent to Beijing to be baptized and then this lay man, in turn, baptized his companions”. The Argentinean Pope went on to say, “Dear brothers, in the history of faith in Korea we can see how Christ does not destroy cultures, Christ does not destroy cultures and wreck the path of populations who, through centuries and millennia, seek the truth and practice love of God and their neighbour. Christ does not abolish what is good, but brings it to fulfilment. What Christ, instead, fights and defeats is the Devil, who sows discord between man and man, population and population; who generates exclusion through the idolatry of money; who sows the poison of nothingness into the hearts of young people. This, Jesus Christ has fought and won through his loving sacrifice”. With this faith, “we have prayed, and are praying even now, so that all the children of Korea, who suffer under the consequences of war and divisions, can set off on the path of brotherhood and reconciliation”.
At the time of the final greetings in foreign languages, the Pope has especially invited all francophone pilgrims to unite in “the prayer of the whole Church for that Asian community I have just visited, as well as for all persecuted Christians in the world and in Iraq in particular. And pray even for those religious minorities who are not Christians but are persecuted all the same”.At the beginning of the audience, Pope Francis greeted the representatives from “his” football team, San Lorenzo Almagro, from the Boedo neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. The delegation was led by the Vice-President of the team, Marcello Tinelli, a famous TV show host in Argentina. “A greeting to the champions of America, the San Lorenzo team, who are part of my cultural identity” said the Pope afterwards.
There were applause for solidarity with the Pope when the Spanish and Italian language speakers offered him condolences for the death of some of his relatives. Yesterday, in a car accident, a nephew of the Pope, Emanuel Horacio Bergoglio, was seriously injured, while his wife Valeria Carmona and their two children, Antonio, 8 months, and Jose, 2 years, were killed. “I thank you for the prayers and condolences for what happened to my family: even the Pope has a family”, said Francis. “We were five brothers, so I have 16 nephews and nieces and one of my nephews had a car accident: his wife died as well as his two young children, one was two and the other was only a few months old, and he is in a critical state at the moment. I thank you all for the condolences and prayers”.
Pope Francis even joked with some of the faithful there: “Today attending this audience there are two brave groups; these people, who have come from Loreto on a canoe and the French, who have come on a donkey: well done!”. And also, addressing the French. “I greet that beautiful French family who entered the hall, they come with two donkeys and six children”, he said. Then the family was framed on the big screen and the Pope said, “That’s them, but did the donkeys not come in?”.