Human freedom is a gift from God, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis blesses a baby Nov 21 2018 Credit MarinaTestino CNA Pope Francis blesses a baby Nov. 21, 2018. | Marina Testino/CNA.
To be able to take "risks" in helping others is a gift of the freedom received from God the Father and revealed through Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said in a video message Thursday.
"Human freedom discovers itself to the fullest when it understands that it is generated and sustained by the loving freedom of the Father, revealed in the Son in the face of Mercy. Under his compassionate gaze, every man can always resume the path of the 'risk of freedom.'"
"Dear friends, I wish you to be free people and not to be afraid of spending yourselves and getting your hands dirty to do good and help those in need," the pope said Nov. 22.
Pope Francis' message was sent for the start of an Italian conference on the social doctrine of the Church, being held in Verona Nov. 22-25. The eighth edition of the "Festival of Social Doctrine," is on the theme of "the risk of freedom."
"To risk, in fact, means to get involved. And this is our first call," he said. "Together we must work to eliminate what deprives men and women of the treasure of freedom."
Catholics must also rediscover what it means to be free, and to work to "preserve the common home that God has given us," he emphasized, noting that "The world needs free people!"
In his message, the pope underlined three situations in which he believes men and women are not putting their God-given freedom to good use – in poverty, the domination of technology, and consumerism.
Poverty, which he said continues to be perpetuated by injustices around the world, causes waste and reduces men and women to "surplus."
"Not only do [people in poverty] experience the evil fruits of others' freedom on them, but they are defrauded of the possibility of 'risking' their freedom for themselves, for their family, for a good, just and dignified life," he said.

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Francis explained that technology use can also have an impact on freedom, such as when it is not accompanied by an adequate development of "responsibility, values, and conscience."
The third negative situation is the reduction of men and women to mere consumers, he stated.
Quoting his environmental encyclical, Laudato si, he said the paradigm of consumerism "makes everyone believe that they are free as long as they retain a supposed freedom to consume, when in reality those who possess freedom are those who belong to the minority that holds economic and financial power."

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"As Christians, faithful to the Gospel and aware of the responsibility we have for all our brothers, we are called to be attentive and vigilant so that 'the risk of freedom' does not lose its highest and most demanding meaning," he said.

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