Pope hon­ors 'rebel' priests cen­sured for com­mit­ment to poor

South Florida Times - - OBITUARIES - By

NI­COLE WIN­FIELD and AN­TO­NIO CALANNI

BOZZOLO, Italy (AP) – Pope Fran­cis made a pil­grim­age to north­ern Italy on Tues­day to honor two 20th-cen­tury par­ish priests whose com­mit­ment to the poor and pow­er­less brought them cen­sure from the Vat­i­can.

Fran­cis flew by he­li­copter to Bozzolo, near Cre­mona, to pray at the tomb of Don Primo Maz­zo­lari. Maz­zo­lari, who died in 1959, was an anti-fas­cist par­ti­san dur­ing World War II who, like Fran­cis, preached about a ``church for the poor.''

Af­ter­ward, Fran­cis flew to Bar­biana, near Florence, to pray at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Mi­lani, a wealthy con­vert to Catholi­cism who founded a par­ish school to ed­u­cate the poor and work­ers. He died in 1967.

Both priests were con­sid­ered rebels in their life­times and were cen­sured by Vat­i­can au­thor­i­ties for their writ­ings. By hon­or­ing them with his brief visit, Fran­cis sent the church a mes­sage of the type of priest he wants today: sim­ple, guided by Gospel val­ues, de­voted to the poor and un­in­ter­ested in ca­reerism.

At his first stop, Fran­cis stood in silent prayer be­fore the sim­ple tomb of Maz­zo­lari, who is con­sid­ered now to be ``Italy's par­ish priest.'' He then de­liv­ered a lengthy trib­ute to the priest, quot­ing Maz­zo­lari's writ­ings about the need for the church to ac­com­pany its flock that Fran­cis him­self could have penned.

Fran­cis said Mi­lani taught the im­por­tance of giv­ing the poor the ca­pac­ity to speak up for them­selves, “be­cause with­out the word, there’s no dig­nity and there­fore no jus­tice or free­dom.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CRUX NOW

Pope Fran­cis

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