On May 27, 2017 when visiting Genoa, Pope Francis mentioned and praised Christopher Columbus. Ironically it was in the context of attempting to convince Italians to accept mass illegal immigration from Islamic countries, something that would have appalled Columbus:
And thank you, Luca, for your restlessness. Genoa is a port city, which historically has received many ships and has produced great navigators! To be a disciple it takes the same navigator’s heart: horizon and courage. If you have no horizon, or prospect, and are unable to look at what is under your nose, you will never be a good missionary. If you do not have courage, you will never be one. It is the virtue of the navigator: they know how to read the horizon, to go, and they have the courage to go. Let us think of the great navigators of the fifteenth century, many set out from here. You have the opportunity to know everything with new techniques, but these techniques of information very often make us fall into a trap: because instead of being informed we are saturated, and when you are saturated your horizon draws in, until you have a wall in front of you, and you lose the capacity to look to the horizon. Be careful: always watch for what they are selling you! Also what they are selling you in the media. Contemplation, the capacity to contemplate the horizon, of making your own judgement, not eating what they serve you on a plate. This is a challenge: it is a challenge that I think should lead us to prayer, to say to the Lord, “Lord, I ask you a favour: please, never stop challenging me”. Challenges to our horizon which require courage. Are you Genoese? Navigator: horizon and courage. And to all Genoese, I say: onwards! That prayer I offered to you: “Lord, I ask you a favour, challenge me today”. Yes, “Jesus, please, come, trouble me, give me the courage to be able to answer to the challenge and to You”. I like this Jesus Who bothers, Who troubles: because He is the living Jesus, Who moves within you with the Holy Spirit. And how good it is to see a boy or a girl let themselves be moved by Jesus; and the young person who does not allow his or her mouth to be closed easily, who learns not to stay with a closed mouth, who is not happy with simplistic answers, who seeks the truth, who looks for the profound, who sets out at large, who goes ahead, onwards. And who has the courage to ask questions about the truth and many things. We must learn to challenge the present. A healthy spiritual life generates lively young people, who when faced with some things that are offered nowadays by this culture – “normal”, they say, it may be, I don’t know – ask themselves, “Is this normal, or is this not normal?”. The courage to seek the truth. Is it normal that every day that sense of indifference increases? I don’t care what happens to others: indifference with friends, neighbours, in our neighbourhood, at work, in school… Is it normal – as Francesca invites us to ask – that many of our peers, migrants or from distant, difficult countries, bloodied by selfishness that leads to death, that they live in our cities in truly difficult situations? Is this normal? Is it normal that the Mediterranean has become a cemetery? Is this normal? Is it normal that many, many countries – and I am not saying Italy, because Italy is very generous – is it normal that many countries are closing their doors to these people who are wounded and flee from hunger, from war, these exploited people, who come in search of a little security … is it normal? This question: is this normal? If it is not normal, I must get involved to make sure it doesn’t happen. My dear, this takes courage, it takes courage.
Returning to navigators, Christopher Columbus, whom they say was one of yours – but we know, but many like him or he himself perhaps departed from here – of him they say, “This crazy man wants to arrive here going from there”. But he had reasoned on the “normality” of certain things and faced a great challenge: he had courage. Is it normal that, faced with the pain of others, our attitude is to close the doors? If it is not normal, get involved. Challenging the present is having the courage to say, “There are things that seem normal but they are not normal”. And you, this you must think: these are not things willed by God, and they must not be willed by us! And say this with force! This is Jesus: untimely, Who breaks up our systems, our plans. It is Jesus Who sows in our hearts the restlessness to ask this question. And this is good: this is very good!
Go here to read the rest. The sound you hear is doubtless Columbus making use of blunt sailor language in response!