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Rome Reports

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Pope at Mass in Bari: Christians are called to live an extremism of love

Hundreds of people lined this street in Bari waiting for Pope Francis to celebrate Mass to conclude the meeting for peace between bishops in the Mediterranean. A cheer went up from the crowd as he zoomed by on the popemobile.

There were bishops representing various Mediterranean towns. It wasn't just religious leaders however. 

Even the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, was present.

Everyone sang “Christ, prince of peace,” as the pope arrived, in line with the overall theme of the event.

Pope Francis during his homily focused on the importance of loving not only one's friends, but also one's enemies. He said Christians are called to love and forgive without expectations.

In loving everyone, we don't accept excuses. We don't preach comfortable prudence. The Lord wasn't prudent. He didn't compromise. He asked us for the 'extremism of charity.' It is the only extremism allowed for a Christian, the 'extremism of love.'

He said the only way to combat a culture of hatred is to stop complaining about people and situations that bother us, and instead, to focus on giving and forgiving.

This is Jesus' revolution, the greatest in history, from an enemy to hate to an enemy to love, from a culture of complaints to a culture of giving. If we belong to Jesus, this is our path! There is no other.

Following the Mass, the Archbishop of Bari-Bitonto, Msgr. Francesco Cacucci, reaffirmed their collective desire to work toward peace. The pope then gifted him a golden chalice. 

Then the pope prayed the Angelus, asking for an end to a mentality of hatred and conflict. He prayed in particular for those in the Mediterranean.

From our hearts, as shepherds, we cry out loudly to members of the international community, to silence the sound of weapons and to listen to the cry of the small and defenseless.

The pope returned to the Vatican after the celebration. It was a short, but very intense and important visit.

Claudia Torres