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Mercy as having pity

Catechesis by Pope Francis in the Jubilee of Mercy
Jubilee Audience, Saturday 14 May 2016, St Peter's Square - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
It is not a very nice day, but you are brave and you came have come despite the rain. Thank you! This audience is taking place in two locations: the sick are in the Paul VI Hall because of the rain. They are more comfortable there and are following us on the jumbo screen; and we are here. We are together... and I suggest that you greet them with a round of applause. It’s not easy to applaud holding an umbrella in your hand!

Among the many aspects of mercy, there is one which consists in feeling compassion or pity for those who need love. Pietas — piety — is a concept from the Greco-Roman world where, however, it indicated a kind of submission to superiors: above all, devotion due to the gods, then filial respect for one’s parents, the elderly in particular. Today, however, we must be careful not to identify piety with the fairly widespread pietism, which is only a superficial emotion and offends the dignity of others. Similarly, piety should not be confused with the compassion that we feel for the animals that live with us; indeed, it happens that at times we feel this sentiment for animals, and are indifferent to the suffering of brothers and sisters. How often we see people who are so attached to their cats or dogs that they leave their neighbour without help, a neighbour in need.... This is not right.

The piety that we wish to talk about is a manifestation of God’s mercy. It is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, whom the Lord offers to his disciples to render them “docile in readily obeying divine inspirations” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1831). Many times the Gospel refers to the spontaneous cry that the sick, of those who are possessed, poor or afflicted people addressed to Jesus: “Have mercy” (cf. Mk 10:47-48; Mt 15:22, 17:15). Jesus responded to all with his gaze of mercy and the comfort of his presence. In those invocations for help or requests for mercy, each person also expressed his or her faith in Jesus, calling him ‘Teacher’, ‘Son of David’ and ‘Lord’. They perceived that there was something extraordinary about Him, that could help them to emerge from their state of distress. They perceived in Him the love of God himself. Even if the people were crowding around him Jesus was aware of those cries for mercy and he was moved to compassion, especially when he saw people suffering and wounded in their dignity, as in the case of the haemorrhaging woman (cf. Mk 5:32). He called her to trust in Him and in his Word (cf. Jn 6:48-55). For Jesus, feeling compassion is the same as sharing in the distress of those he meets, but at the same time, it is also getting involved in a personal way so that it might be transformed into joy.

We too are called to cultivate within us attitudes of compassion before the many situations of life, to shake off the indifference that impedes us from recognizing the need of the brothers and sisters who surround us and to free ourselves from the slavery of material wellbeing (cf. 1 Tim 6:3-8).

Let us look to the example of the Virgin Mary, who takes care of each one of her children and is for us believers the icon of compassion. Dante Alighieri expresses it in the prayer to Our Lady in Paradiso: “In you compassion is, in you is pity, [...] in you is every goodness found in any creature (XXXIII, 19-21). Thank you."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française. Par l’intercession de la Vierge Marie, nous sommes invités, en cette veille de la Pentecôte, à secouer notre indifférence qui nous empêche parfois de voir les besoins de nos frères, et de nous libérer de la servitude des biens matériels. Que Dieu vous bénisse.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England and the Philippines. In the joy of the Risen Lord, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!

Ein herzliches Willkommen allen Pilgern und Besuchern deutscher Sprache. Am heutigen Vorabend von Pfingsten wollen wir uns innerlich mit der Jungfrau Maria und den Aposteln vereinen, die sich in der Erwartung des Heiligen Geistes zum Gebet versammelt hatten. Der Tröster helfe euch, im Glauben und in der Liebe zu wachsen, um Zeugen der echten Frömmigkeit zu werden. Der Herr segne euch und eure Familien.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. Que  la Virgen Santa, Madre de Piedad y Misericordia, interceda por nosotros ante el Señor Jesús, para que nos conceda apiadarnos y compadecernos amorosamente del prójimo y nos libre de la esclavitud de las cosas materiales. Muchas gracias.

Uma cordial saudação a todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, especialmente aos fiéis da Missão Católica Portuguesa, de Friburgo na Suíça, e ao grupo brasileiro do Santuário Jardim da Imaculada, de Cidade Ocidental. Este mês de Maria convida-nos a multiplicar diariamente os atos de devoção e imitação da Mãe de Deus. Rezai o terço todos os dias! Deixai a Virgem Mãe possuir o vosso coração, confiando-Lhe tudo quanto sois e tendes! E Deus será tudo em todos... Assim Deus vos abençoe, a vós e aos vossos entes queridos!

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللّغةِ العربيّة، وخاصّةً بالقادمينَ منالشّرق الأوسط. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، إنّ العذراء مريم هي أيقونة الشّفقة، أدعوكم للاقتداء بمسيرة أمِّ الله لتتعلّموا منها محبّة الله والقريب. ليبارككُم الربّ!

Witam pielgrzymów polskich. Jutro przypada Uroczystość Zesłania Ducha Świętego. Prośmy, by Boży Duch napełnił nasze serca. Otwórzmy je na Jego działanie. Święty Paweł przypomina nam, że Duch Święty wstawia się za nami w błaganiach, gdy nie umiemy się modlić tak, jak trzeba. Prośmy Go, by wspierał naszą modlitwę i nasze działania, by opromieniał je swoim światłem i uczynił je zgodnymi z wolą Bożą. Wam wszystkim tu obecnym i waszym bliskim z serca błogosławię.

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Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di salutare i Figli dell’Immacolata Concezione in occasione del Capitolo Generale; la Comunità del Pontificio Collegio Ucraino San Giosafat e i partecipanti al corso per formatori dell’Università Salesiana. Saluto la Lega del Chianti con il Vescovo Mons. Giovannetti; la Federazione italiana delle tradizioni popolari; i membri del Giubileo degli uomini e donne che fanno impresa; il Forum della Cattolica per le adozioni a distanza, e i membri dell’Unitalsi. Auspico che il Giubileo della misericordia, con il passaggio della Porta Santa, sia l’occasione per manifestare verso i fratelli la stessa pietà di Dio Padre, che sempre ci consola nelle difficoltà.

Saluto i giovani, gli ammalati e gli sposi novelli. Oggi è la festa di San Mattia, l’apostolo che da ultimo entrò tra i Dodici. Il suo vigore spirituale stimoli voi, cari giovani, specialmente gli studenti del Sacro Cuore e Paolo VI di Roma, ad essere coerenti con la vostra fede; il suo abbandono in Cristo Risorto sostenga voi, cari ammalati, nei momenti di maggiore difficoltà; e la sua dedizione missionaria ricordi a voi, cari sposi novelli, che l’amore è il fondamento insostituibile della famiglia."