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Pope Francis warns of “Jonah syndrome” in his final Mass in Peru

As the popemobile paraded through Las Palmas Air Base in Lima, some of the more than one million people gathered came running to once again receive the Holy Father warmly.

During his homily in the final Mass of his trip to Latin America, though, Pope Francis urged those present to walk at a different pace through their communities, paying close attention to the marginalized people they may have previously overlooked. 

“They are found along our roadsides, living on the fringes of our cities, and lacking the conditions needed for a dignified existence. It is painful to realize that among these 'urban remnants' all too often we see the faces of children and adolescents. We look at the face of the future.”

Continuing, the pope warned of the “globalization of indifference,” which causes people to disconnect from the needs of others. He likened this phenomenon to the reaction of Jonah in the Bible. 

“Seeing these things in our cities and our neighbourhoods – which should be places of encounter, solidarity and joy – we end up with what we might call the Jonah syndrome: we lose heart and want to flee. We become indifferent, and as a result, anonymous and deaf to others, cold and hard of heart. When this happens, we wound the soul of our people.”

Thus, as he said the Lord comes to meet each person, Pope Francis encouraged Christians to walk along with God as disciples, being unafraid to show compassion for the “half-citizens” who are disregarded. 

Before concluding the Mass, the pope left Peruvians with a message of gratitude and inspiration, calling their land one of “hope.”

“Girls and boys, please, don't lose your roots. Grandparents and elders, don't stop spreading the roots of their people to the younger generations and the wisdom of the path to get to heaven. I urge all of you to not be afraid to be the saints of the 21st century.”

Placed on the altar behind the pope was the image of the Lord of Miracles. In the 17th century, the mural miraculously survived an earthquake. Its feast has now become the main Catholic celebration in Peru and one of the largest processions in the world.