In practice, most of our life as a Community has been lived under the pontificate of John Paul II. Among the many aspects, I would like to emphasize one in particular: the parrhesia. The distinctive feature of St. John Paul II is an evangelizing trait, the Pope who has traveled the most in the history of the Church, who began his Pontificate saying “Open up! Open the doors to the Redeemer!”, which had within itself an immense need to go out, to meet the other, as our dear Pope Francis invites us to do. Pope St. John Paul II is a Pope who had an immense love for the young people, an immense love for humanity. It was impressed on my mind the celebration of the 50th anniversary of his priesthood, to which I had the opportunity to participate in St. Peter’s Basilica.
I remember that he was already quite ill, visibly suffering, with moving and walking difficulties: I remember looking at that huge Basilica, seeing the Pope walking in the procession from the bottom of the Basilica, I thought he could take a wheelchair to facilitate, but no. He chose to get from the bottom of the Basilica, moving slowly but firmly and you could see that every step he took was costing him, seeing his appearance transmitting his pain but at the same time of serenity, of welcome. Nothing stopped his steps, except when he had to greet a young man, a child and give his blessing. I thought, “My God!”
He could not simply say that he was old now, sick, that he could not take it anymore … No! I understood, even better, what he felt in the heart: nothing could hold him back, neither the bullet of the attack, nor the progress of infirmity, nor the age: there was something that had an urgency in the heart, the urgency of witnessing the love of Jesus Christ at the heart of humanity.
Another name that we could give to all this is parrhesia, with which, certainly, it has contributed to and influenced our Shalom Community.