Pope to the association for the visually impaired: “You can only see well with the heart”


Pope Francis encourages members of the French Catholic Association “See Together” to continue their commitment to improving the well-being of blind and visually impaired people during an audience on Saturday.

By Lisa Zengarini

In a society blinded by appearances and prejudices that exclude the weakest, Jesus invites us to see people and things with the heart, Pope Francis said on Saturday. He made the remarks during an audience with members of Voir Ensemble, a French Catholic non-profit organization committed to improving the well-being of people who are blind or partially sighted.

Embrace the brotherhood

Addressing members of the association, founded in Lyon by a blind Jesuit more than 90 years ago, Pope Francis said the encounter with Jesus should inspire Christians to reject the culture of prejudice that marginalizes the sick and the disabled, and to embrace encounter and rather fraternity.

Reject prejudice

The pope drew inspiration from the healing of the blind man in the Gospel of John, chapter 9, noting that Jesus radically rejected the prejudices of the time regarding people born blind. Likewise, he notes, today “we are accustomed to seeing only the outside of things, the most superficial aspect. Our culture affirms that people are worthy in terms of physical appearance, clothes, nice houses, expensive cars, social position, wealth. But the Gospel, he says, tells us another story.

“As the Gospel teaches us, a sick or handicapped person, with his fragility, can be at the heart of the encounter: the encounter with Jesus, who is open to life and to faith, and who can build fraternal and solidary relations, in the Church and in society”.

Do not remain indifferent to suffering

Pope Francis went on to remark that by restoring sight to the blind, Jesus shows that his heart “cannot remain indifferent to suffering”, thus inviting us “to act immediately, to console, soothe and heal the wounds of our brothers”.

Pope Francis further drew attention to the paradox of the blind man who becomes able to see after encountering “He who is the Light of the world” and the many who, while encountering Jesus, remain blind. “This paradox,” he noted, “very often runs through our own lives and our ways of believing.”

See with the heart

Recalling the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – who in “The Little Prince” wrote: “One only sees clearly with the heart” – the Pope underlined that Jesus invites us to renew our way of seeing people and things.

“To see with the heart is to see the world and our brothers through the eyes of God,” he said, noting that “faith cannot be reduced to a series of theoretical beliefs, traditions and It is a bond and a path on which we follow Jesus, which renews our way of seeing the world and our brothers.

Testify of Jesus in our life

Pope Francis went on to stress that Christians “cannot be content with being enlightened,” as the Pharisees did: they must also be “witnesses to the light” like the blind man was.

“We too are called to witness to Jesus in our lives with welcoming manners and brotherly love.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis encouraged the association “See Together” to “continue to walk on the path of ‘seeing together’, with the heart”, allowing the charism of their founder, Father Yves Mollat, SJ, to bear fruit. .

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