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Talitha koum!

Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The Gospel for this Sunday has recorded for us the words the Lord addresses in Aramaic to the daughter of Jairus who has died: Little girl, I say to you, arise! It is God Himself who utters those miraculous, life giving and healing words that resonate through the centuries. They are also addressed to each one of us, most especially to those who are trapped in a web of death woven by sin.

Last week we remembered the prayer of the Pope at the height of the pandemic. We must also remember other pandemics that are causing a lot of death and sorrow. I think of two in particular: the pandemic of drug abuse and the pandemic of pornography. The former is literally a cause of many deaths. The latter kills the soul and affectivity.

Earlier this week, on the commemoration of the World Day against drug abuse, the Holy Father spoke about that serious problem and that of drug trafficking, issuing stern warnings.

The Holy Father reminded us that “St. John Paul II affirmed, “Drug abuse impoverishes every community where it exists. It diminishes human strength and moral fiber. It undermines esteemed values. It destroys the will to live and to contribute to a better society.” This drives the abuse of drugs and the use of drugs. At the same time, however, let us remember that each addict “has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified… They continue to possess, more than ever, a dignity as children of God.” Everyone has dignity.

However, we cannot ignore the evil intentions and actions of drug dealers and traffickers. They are murderers. Pope Benedict XVI used stern words during a visit to a therapeutic community. This is what Pope Benedict said: “I therefore urge the drug-dealers to reflect on the grave harm they are inflicting on countless young people and on adults from every level of society: God will call you to account for your deeds. Human dignity cannot be trampled upon in this way.” And drugs trample on human dignity.

A reduction in drug addiction is not achieved by liberalizing drug use – this is a fantasy! – as has been proposed by some, or has already implemented, in some countries. It’s like this: you liberalize and drugs are consumed even more. Having known so many tragic stories of drug addicts and their families, I am convinced that it is a moral duty to end the production and trafficking of these dangerous substances. How many traffickers of death there are – because drug traffickers are traffickers of death! – how many traffickers of death there are, driven by the logic of power and money at any cost! And this scourge, which produces violence and sows suffering and death, demands an act of courage from our society as a whole

Drug production and trafficking also have a destructive impact on our common home. This has become increasingly evident, for example, in the Amazon basin.

Another key way to counter drug abuse and trafficking is through prevention, which is done by promoting greater justice, educating young people in values that build personal and community life, accompanying those in need, and giving hope for the future.

In my journeys in different dioceses and countries, I have been able to visit several recovery communities inspired by the Gospel. They are a strong and hopeful witness to the commitment of priests, consecrated men and women, and lay people to put into practice the parable of the Good Samaritan. So too, I am comforted by the efforts undertaken by various bishops’ conferences to promote just legislation and policies regarding the treatment of people addicted to drug use, and prevention to stop this scourge…

Faced with the tragic – it is tragic, isn’t it? – the tragic situation of drug addiction of millions of people around the world, faced with the scandal of the illicit production and trafficking of such drugs, “we cannot be indifferent. The Lord Jesus paused, drew near, healed wounds. In the style of His closeness, we too are called to act, to pause before situations of fragility and pain, to know how to listen to the cry of loneliness and anguish, to stoop to lift up and bring back to life those who fall into the slavery of drugs.” And we pray, too, for these criminals who spend and give drugs to the young: they are criminals, they are murderers. Let us pray for their conversion.”

Through the centuries, the Lord continues to call everybody to conversion, healing festering wounds, restoring people to life, addressing His word of life to everybody, inviting us to rise to the fullness of life and to be consistent witnesses of His Gospel so that other may also rise to a new life, break free from the chains of drugs, addictions, and other modern forms of slavery to sin depriving us of that true life offered to us in Jesus Christ.

Fr. Roberto M. Cid