On Saturday, September 9, 2017 Pope Francis continued his 4th day in Colombia with a visit to a the orphanage Hogar San Jose, a complex founded by a missionary priest in 1910 that is home to 1,100 orphans and young people. Below, find the full text of his prepared address:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dear Boys and Girls,
I am very happy to be with you here at “Saint Joseph’s Home”. Thank you for the welcome you prepared for me. I am grateful also to the director, Monsignor Armando Santamaría, for his words.
I wish to express my thanks to you, Claudia Yesenia, for your courageous testimony.
Hearing all of the difficulties you experienced, I thought of the unjust suffering of so many boys and girls throughout the world, who have been and continue to be innocent victims of the evil that others commit.
The Baby Jesus was also a victim of hatred and persecution; he too had to run away with his family, to leave his country and his home, in order to escape death. To see children suffer, wounds our hearts because children are Jesus’ favourites. We can never accept that they are mistreated, that they are denied the right to live out their childhood peacefully and joyfully, that they are denied a future of hope.
Jesus, however, never abandons those who suffer, much less you, boys and girls, who are his special ones. Claudia Yesenia, in the midst of all the horrible things that happened, God gave you an aunt to watch out for you, a hospital to care for you, and finally a community to welcome you.
This “home” is a sign of Jesus’ love for you, and of his desire to be very lose to you. He does this through the loving care of all those good people who are with you, who love you and teach you. I think of those who direct this house, the sisters, the staff and so many others who are already a part of your family. For this is what you do here, you make this place a home: the warmth of a family where we feel loved, protected, accepted, cared for and accompanied.
I am happy that this place bears the name of Saint Joseph, and the other homes the names of “Jesus the Worker” and “Bethlehem”. It means that you are in good hands. Do you remember what Saint Matthew writes in his Gospel, when he tells us that Herod, in his foolishness, decided to kill the Infant Jesus? How, in a dream, God spoke to Saint Joseph by means of an angel, and entrusted to his care and protection his most valuable treasures: Jesus and Mary? Matthew tells us that, as soon as the angel spoke, Joseph immediately obeyed, and did all that God told him to do: “He rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt” (Mt 2:14). I am sure that, just as Saint Joseph protected and defended the Holy Family from danger, so too he is defending you, caring for you and accompanying you. Alongside him are Jesus and Mary, because Saint Joseph can never be without Jesus and Mary.
To you, brothers and sisters, religious and lay people, and to those in the other homes who welcome and lovingly care for these children that from infancy have experienced suffering and sorrow: I would like to remind you of two realities that you must never forget because they are part of the Christian identity – the love that knows how to see Jesus present in the smallest and weakest, and the sacred duty of bringing children to Jesus. In this task, with your joys and hardships, I commend you also to Saint Joseph’s protection. Learn from him, that his example may inspire you and help you in your loving care for these little ones, who are the future of Colombian society, of the world and of the Church, so that like Jesus, they may grow and be strengthened in wisdom and grace, before God and others (cf. Lk 2:52). May Jesus and Mary, together with Saint Joseph, accompany and protect you, and fill you with their tenderness, joy and strength.
I promise to pray for you, so that in this place of family love, you may grow in love, peace and happiness, and your wounds of body and heart may heal. God will not abandon you, but protect you and help you. And the Pope will keep you in his heart. Please do not forget to pray for me.