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Pope During Mass With Prisoners, Refugees: ‘Mercy is Christianity’

During his homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis reminded the faithful of their most important duty as Christians.

In celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday last April 11, Pope Francis presided over the “Mass of mercy” with prisoners, refugees, and health workers.

The Mass was held just outside St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Only about 80 people were allowed to physically attended the celebration, as COVID-19 restrictions are still in place in Italy. (Read: Pope Francis stuns crowd as he kneels, kisses South Sudanese leaders’ feet)

Among those who were physically present were inmates of two Roman prisons and one youth detention centre; refugees from Syria, Nigeria, and Egypt; and nursing staff from a nearby hospital.

The Value of Mercy

In his homily, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of the word “mercy” among Christians. He says everyone, especially the faithful, has the duty to help and serve others.

“Sister, brother, do you want proof that God has touched your life? See if you can stoop to bind the wounds of others,” the Pope said. (Read: Pope Francis Homilies: Valuable Lessons on Christian Living)

“Let us not remain indifferent. Let us not live a one-way faith, a faith that receives but does not give … Having received mercy, let us now become merciful,” he added.

Pope Francis also stressed the value of sharing. He recalled how in the olden times, Christians had no concept of “private property” and shared everything. “This is not communism, but pure Christianity,” he said.

Divine Mercy Sunday

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(19 April 2020) Pope Francis at Mass in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Saxony (Photo from Vatican News)

Divine Mercy Sunday, also known as the Second Sunday of Easter, is a Catholic Feast that was established in 2000 by Pope John Paul II. This day focuses on plenary indulgences—  particularly the forgiveness of sins from the Lord’s open heart, the source of mercy.

As the Vatican’s 2002 decree explains, Divine Mercy Sunday offers plenary indulgences to “the sick and those who nurse them, and all who for a just cause cannot leave their homes or who carry out an activity for the community which cannot be postponed.” (Read: Pope Francis Grants Plenary Indulgence for 500 Years of PH Christianity)

In addition, the decree says that faithful can obtain the forgiveness of sins by “fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff), reciting the Our Father and the Creed before a devout image of Our Merciful Lord Jesus and, and praying a devout invocation to the Merciful Lord Jesus.”

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