POPE’S MESSAGE | Reflections on mercy over, but compassion must live on

Paul Haring | Catholic News Service
Related Articles: 

VATICAN CITY — The Year of Mercy and its series of papal reflections may be over, but compassion and acts of mercy must continue and become a part of everyone's daily lives, Pope Francis said.

"Let us commit ourselves to praying for each other so that the corporal and spiritual works of mercy increasingly become our way of life," he said Nov. 30 at his general audience in the Vatican's Paul VI hall.

Because the day also marked the feast of St. Andrew, brother of St. Peter and founder of the Church in Constantinople, Pope Francis gave special greetings to his "dear brother," Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

Pope Francis, the bishop of Rome and successor of Peter, said he was sending "a big embrace" to the patriarch and "this cousin Church."

The Vatican released a letter from the pope to the patriarch, which praised the way Catholics and Orthodox have begun "to recognize one another as brothers and sisters and to value each other's gifts, and together have proclaimed the Gospel, served humanity and the cause of peace, promoted the dignity of the human being and the inestimable value of the family, and cared for those most in need, as well as creation, our common home."

In his main audience talk, the pope ended his yearlong series of talks on mercy with a reflection on the corporal work of burying the dead and the spiritual works of praying for the living and dead.

Catholics particularly remember the faithful departed during the month of November, he said. Praying for those who have died "is a sign of recognition for the witness they have left us and the good they have done. It is a giving thanks to the Lord for having given them to us and for their love and friendship."

While for many burying the dead is an expected, straightforward ritual, there are some parts of the world where this may not be a given, such as places experiencing "the scourge of war, with bombings day and night that sow fear and innocent victims," he said.

"Even today, there are those who risk their life to bury poor victims of war," he added, thanking those particularly in Syria and the Middle East for their courage in recovering the dead and going to rescue the injured.

Praying for the living, he said, can be done in many ways, such as: blessing one's children every morning and evening; visiting and praying for the sick; praying silently, "sometimes in tears," for help during difficult times; even thanking God for the blessings bestowed upon one's family, friends and co-workers.

The important thing, he said, is to always have one's heart open to the Holy Spirit, "who knows our deepest desires and hopes," and can "purify and bring them to fulfillment."

Pope: Neglect, bullying hurts both victims and aggressors

VATICAN CITY — Indifference to people's problems and picking on others hurts not just those who are neglected and discriminated against, it also harms the perpetrators, Pope Francis said.

People who abuse their power or are negligent "end up staying closed up inside themselves and prevent themselves from encountering the flesh of their brothers and sisters, which is the necessary path for discovering the good," he said Nov. 26.

Speaking with young volunteers, government officials and organizations involved in Italy's national civil service programs, the pope praised their efforts in promoting the common good and social justice.

Volunteering for others is a valuable and indispensable part of helping communities, especially the weakest, he said.

In fact, the pope said, the quest for a fair, just and fraternal community "is betrayed every time one passively helps increase the inequality between members of society or between nations of the world; when assistance to the weakest sectors is cut back without guaranteeing other forms of protection; when dangerous mentalities of rearmament are accepted and precious resources are invested for buying arms — this being a real scourge; or when the poor become a hidden danger and instead of taking them by the hand, they are exiled to their misery."

All of these behaviors represent "an insult" to society and culture, he said, leading to standards and practices "marked by indifference and bullying, which impoverish not only the life of those who are forgotten or discriminated against, but also of those who neglect and discriminate."

— Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service 

No votes yet