At the beginning of the Bible we hear the story of the history of Babel, a city "unfinished, destined to remain in the memory of humanity as a symbol of confusion and loss, presumption and division, of that inability to understand that makes any common work impossible," he said.
The Bible also closes with the vision of a city. But unlike the city of Babel, the new Jerusalem "smells of heaven and tells of a renewed world."
It is significant, the Pope continued, that the image of the city recurs throughout Sacred Scripture. It teaches us that human society can only stand when rested on the foundation of true solidarity.
Envy, unbridled ambition and a spirit of adversity, on the other hand, condemn us to the violence of chaos. To move away from this we need a politics and economy centered on ethics, "an ethics of responsibility, relationships, community and the environment," he said.
"I would like to talk to you about a city that puts the public well-being above private interests, not allowing corruption or the privatization of public spaces, where the 'us' is 'reduced to slogans, to rhetorical artifice that masks the interests of few,'" he said.
It is this view that helps people to grow in dignity. "It promotes social justice, therefore labor, services, opportunities," he said.
"To embrace and serve this city it takes a good and great heart, in which to preserve the passion of the common good," he encouraged, "because what contributes to the good of everyone also contributes to the good of the individual."
If we do this, he concluded, "then the city will advance and reflect the heavenly Jerusalem."
"It will be a sign of God's goodness and tenderness in man's time. A mayor must have the virtue of prudence to govern, but also the virtue of courage to move forward and the virtue of tenderness to approach the weakest."