Pope Francis met with a group of Italian mayors and other political leaders Saturday morning, encouraging them to live among the people and to act on behalf of everyone’s wellbeing.
“The mayor, in the midst of people. One doesn’t understand a mayor who would not be there, because he is a mediator, a mediator in the midst of the needs of the people,” Pope Francis said to the president and 120 members of the National Association of Italian Municipalities on April 5.
He said it is “dangerous” when a mayor is not a mediator but rather an “intermediary” who acts as a “broker” and “takes advantage” of people’s needs. He praised the leader who is a mediator and “pays with his life for the unity of his people, for the wellbeing of his people, in order to bring forward diverse solutions to the needs of his people.”
The Holy Father noted that this is not an easy task.
Often “the poor mayor ends up dejected by so many things” when “at the end of a day he comes home with so many things that have not been resolved.”
Yet, said the Pope, this work is their “spirituality.”
After dedicating so much effort at work, “a mayor, this man, or this woman, ends up tired, with the desire to rest a little, but with a heart full of love because he or she has been a mediator.”
“And I congratulate you in this,” encouraged the pontiff, “that you are mediators. In the midst of the people, to make unity, to make peace, to resolve problems and to solve the needs of the people.”
Pope Francis went on to suggest that the politicians “think of Jesus” who found himself in a crowd “almost to the point--says the gospel--where he couldn’t breathe.”
“The mayor must be like this,” stressed the Pope, “with his people, with that man, with that woman, because this means that the people, as with Jesus, look for him because he knows to respond.”
“I wish you this,” continued the Holy Father, “tiredness, in the midst of your people, and that the people look for you because they know you always respond well.”
The National Association of Italian Municipalities was established in 1901. According to the group’s website, its main goals involve responsibility for the communities administered, unity and solidarity of communities and institutions, and autonomy from governments and political parties.
It represents the municipalities’ interests and lobbies parliament, the government, regions, Italy’s public administration and E.U. bodies on their behalf.