.- Pope Francis on Saturday visited the Italian city of Caserta, encouraging the people of the region to place God at the center of their lives.
“Giving primacy to God means having the courage to say no to evil, violence, oppression; to live a life of service to others and in favor of lawfulness and the common good,” Pope Francis said July 26.
The Pope spoke during his homily at evening Mass in front of the Royal Palace of Caserta, a former residence of the King of Naples, Vatican Radio reports. The city is in the southern Italian region of Campania.
Pope Francis visited the city for the Feast of St. Anne, its patron saint.
The Pope stressed the importance of the presence of Jesus, saying his presence “transforms our lives and makes us sensitive to the needs of our brothers.” Jesus’ presence “invites us to accept every other presence, including that of foreigners and immigrants.”
He added that God is “the true treasure.”
“He who becomes a friend of God loves his brothers, is committed to safeguarding their lives and well-being, and also respects the environment and nature,” Pope Francis said.
The Pope said the beauty of the Campania region needs to be “protected and preserved.” He also called on the people of Caserta to have the courage to reject corruption.
Everyone should be “servants of the truth,” living a gospel-inspired life that is shown in “the gift of self” and in giving attention to the poor and excluded.
On Monday Pope Francis will return to Caserta to visit with the Italian Protestant minister Giovanni Traettino, whom he befriended during his visits to Rome when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.