The closing Mass presided by Pope Francis in Peru gathered over one million faithful at the air force base “Las Palmas.” Estimates range from 1.2 to 1.7 million. In a city of 10 million, that means about 10% of the city attended the Mass and a few other million followed it on television.
The Pope’s brief final words in Peru echoed his sentiments expressed in The Joy of the Gospel regarding the need to reach out to those living in the margins of society, those “non-citizens” who do not benefit from the goods of society. Noting the indifference found in cities towards those excluded from society, he warned that our cities can become a place of “flight and distrust. A space for indifference that makes us anonymous and deaf toward others, transforming us into impersonal beings with cauterized hearts, and with this attitude we hurt society.”
He quoted his predecessor Pope Benedict stating, “the greatness of humanity is essentially determined by its relationship to the suffering of those who suffer. A society that does not embrace those who suffer is unable to express compassion towards them so that the suffering may be shared and endured; otherwise it becomes a cruel and inhumane society.”
He commended Peru for being a country of hope due to its rich traditions and customs which have marked the soul of its people.
There is no doubt the Holy Father enjoyed his visit to Peru. His twitter account today reads, “it has done me well to be with you.”