Pope Benedict XVI will dedicate his prayer intentions in November to the tens of thousands worldwide who are prey to substance abuse, so that “victims of drugs or of other dependence may, thanks to the support of the Christian community, find in the power of our Saving God strength for a radical life-change”.
In his 2007 Apostolic voyage to Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse directly during his pastoral visit to the “Fazenda da Esperança", a community run by the Franciscan order and the Focolare movement in the hills outside Sao Paolo for young people trying to emerge from the devastation of addiction and rebuild their lives.
He told them “At some stage in people’s lives, Jesus comes and gently knocks at the hearts of those properly disposed. Perhaps for you, he did this through a friend or a priest, or, who knows, perhaps he arranged a series of coincidences which enabled you to realize that you are loved by God. Through the institution which has welcomed you, the Lord has given you this opportunity for physical and spiritual recovery, so vital for you and your families. In turn, society expects you to spread this precious gift of health among your friends and all the members of the community”.
“You must be Ambassadors of hope! Brazil’s statistics concerning drug abuse and other forms of chemical dependency are very high. The same is true of Latin America in general. 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. The harm done will receive the same censure that Jesus reserved for those who gave scandal to the "little ones", the favourites of God (cf. Mt 18:7-10)”.
“Through treatment, which includes medical, psychological and educational assistance, and through much prayer, manual work and discipline, many people— especially young people—have already succeeded in freeing themselves from alcohol and drug dependency, thereby recovering meaning in their lives. I wish to express my appreciation for this work, which has the charism of Saint Francis and the spirituality of the Focolare Movement as its spiritual foundation. Reintegration in society undoubtedly demonstrates the effectiveness of your initiative. Yet it is the conversions, the rediscovery of God and active participation in the life of the Church which attract even greater attention and which confirm the importance of your work. It is not enough to care for the body, we must adorn the soul with the most precious divine gifts acquired through Baptism. Let us thank God for all those who have set out along the path of renewed hope, with the help of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the celebration of the Eucharist. [...]”