A few hours after celebrating his first World Youth Day Mass, the Pope visited a hospital that helps recovering drug addicts. For over a decade, Franciscan friars have run the St. Francis of Assisi Hospital, helping over 1,700 recovering addicts, in the past 13 years. Despite the heavy rain, a large crowd was ready to welcome Pope Francis. Before giving his speech, he listened to the testimonies, of those who got their life back on track thanks to the center.
"I felt loved again and in turn, I was able to love others. I left that life behind and I became a better person. Every day, I learn more, thanks to God and thanks to this institution.”
The Pope denounced those who see human lives as a means of business or drug deals and he called on society to not be indifferent.
"How many 'dealers of death' there are that follow the logic of power and money at any cost! The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favors violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage.”
He also added that the solution to the drug problem is not based on legalizing their use. Rather, he said, the solution is found in instilling values and education.
"A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America. Rather, it is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future.”
The Pope also thanked the Franciscan friars who day in and day out, help those who need it most. Despite the challenges, he urged the young addicts, to continue their recovery and to have hope.
"You have to want to stand up; this is the indispensible condition! You will find an outstretched hand ready to help you, but no one is able to stand up in your place. You are never alone! The Church and so many people are with you. Look ahead with confidence. You have a long and difficult journey, but you must look ahead.”
The Pope then added that during his visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, he prayed for each and every one of them, asking Our Lady to protect them. He also asked them to never forget, that God walks along with them, even in the hardest moments.