Francis told the group that they "are in the heart of the Church" since during his life Jesus "always gave priority to people like you, who lived similar situations." The Church, "who loves and prefers what Jesus loved and preferred," he added, can't rest until she has reached all those who experience rejection, exclusion and "who don't count for anyone."
As people suffering in the flesh, the poor and disabled show us how to encounter Christ, since they speak to us about him with their "entire lives," the Pope said.
He said that each one of them bears witness to the importance of "small gestures," reminding us that "we are brothers and that God is Father for all of us."
Before closing his speech Pope Francis offered special thanks to the caretakers and those who assist the sick and disabled, telling them that a life lived alongside the poor "transforms and converts us."
Not only do caregivers go out to meet the needs of even those who are ashamed and hidden, they "walk with them, endeavoring to understand their suffering, to enter into their desperation."
Furthermore, "you raise a community around them, thereby restoring to them an existence, an identity, a dignity," Francis said, explaining that the Jubilee of Mercy is the ideal opportunity to rediscover and live solidarity, fraternity and mutual support.
He closed his speech by asking the pilgrims to maintain courage and hope in the midst of their anguish, telling them that as witnesses of Christ, "you are intercessors before God who grants in a very special way your prayers."
After closing his speech Pope Francis led the group in praying the Our Father in French, and took the time to greet each person individually before leaving the hall.