Pope Francis condemned drug dealers on Wednesday while visiting with addicts during his first papal visit to Brazil. The Pope told addicts to have hope, and called upon struggling addicts to find the courage to get help.
The Irish Independent reports Pope Francis visited the rehabilitation center at the St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro, the hospital which was named after his namesake saint. There, the Pope called upon society to act with courage in the face of drugs, and offered prayer for those addicted.
"How many dealers of death there are that follow the logic of power and money at any cost,” Pope Francis said. "The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favors violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage."
The Pope went on to pray for those struggling with addiction: “Today, in this place where people struggle with drug addiction, I wish to embrace each and every one of you, who are the flesh of Christ, and to ask God to renew your journey, and also mine, with purpose and steadfast hope.”
Pope Francis used the rehabilitation center as an example of how Catholics should be caring for one another. He said that at this “particular shrine of human suffering, we all have to learn to embrace the one in need” as did St. Francis, who saw that “true joy and riches” are found not in the possession of material things but “only in following Christ and serving others.”
The Pope went to criticize the proposed responses to the dire drug problem in the region, "A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America.”
Instead, the Pope suggested that “It is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future.”
“We all need to look upon one another with the loving eyes of Christ, and to learn to embrace those in need, in order to show our closeness, affection and love,” Pope Francis insisted.
The Pope called upon all those still struggling to turn to the Church in their time of need. “You will find an outstretched hand ready to help you, but no one is able to stand up in your place. But you are never alone! The Church and so many people are close to you. Look ahead with confidence."