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Catholic News Service is a leading agency for religious news. It was founded by U.S. bishops in 1920, and is an office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
VATICAN CITY — Hurling insults and being indifferent to other people’s lives is the first step along the winding path that leads to killing them, at least figuratively, Pope Francis said.
By warning that “whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment,” Jesus equates hatred with murder, the pope said Oct. 17 in his weekly general audience.
“Indifference kills. It’s like telling someone, ‘You’re dead to me,’ because you’ve killed them in your heart. Not loving is the first step to killing; and not killing is the first step to loving,” he told thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.
Continuing his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, the pope reflected on Christ’s explanation of the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shall not kill.”
“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift,” Jesus said according to St. Matthew’s Gospel.
Although Christians should have “an attitude of reconciliation with people who we have had problems with,” Pope Francis said that sometimes, even while waiting for Mass to begin, “we gossip a bit and speak bad about others.”
“This can’t be done!” he exclaimed. “Let’s think about the gravity of insults, the gravity of despising someone, the seriousness of hatred. Jesus places them along the lines of murder.”
By expanding on the definition of murder, the pope explained, Jesus emphasized that every person, carrying within them the image of God, “possesses a hidden self that is no less important than their physical being,” and both easily can be destroyed.
“To offend the innocence of a child, an inappropriate phrase is enough,” he said. “To hurt a woman, a gesture of coldness is enough. To break a young man’s heart, it is enough to deny him trust. To annihilate a man, it is enough to ignore him.”
Through His life and death, Christ taught that forgiveness and mercy are “the love we cannot do without.”
In Jesus, Pope Francis said, “in His love which is stronger than death and through the power of the Spirit that the Father gives us, we can accept this (commandment) — ‘Thou shall not kill’ — as the most important and essential appeal: the call to love.”
— At a time of technological and scientific progress, “we ought to feel
shame” for not having advanced in “humanity and solidarity” enough to
feed the world’s poor, Pope Francis said.
“Neither can we console
ourselves simply for having faced emergencies and desperate situations
of those most in need. We are all called to go further. We can and we
must do better for the helpless,” the pope wrote in a message to world
leaders attending a meeting of the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization in Rome.
The World Food Day ceremony Oct. 16 marks the date the organization was founded in 1945 to address the causes of world hunger.
theme for 2018 is “Our actions are our future: A zero hunger world by
2030 is possible.” The 2030 agenda seeks to end hunger, achieve food
security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Local programs are just as important as global commitments to ending hunger, Pope Francis stated in his message.
to the FAO 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World
report, world hunger is on the rise again, and over 820 million people
are suffering chronic undernourishment.
The pope called for
policies of cooperation for development that are oriented toward meeting
the real needs of the people: “The struggle against hunger urgently
demands generous financing, the abolition of trade barriers and, above
all, greater resilience in the face of climate change, economic crises
and warfare,” he stated.
While one can dream of a future without
hunger, the pope said it is only reasonable to do so “when we engage in
tangible processes, vital relations, effective plans and real
The poor expect real help from world leaders, he wrote, “not mere propositions or agreements.”
overlook the structural aspects that shroud the tragedy of hunger:
extreme inequality, poor distribution of the world’s resources,
consequences of climate change and the interminable and bloody conflicts
which ravage many regions,” he stated.
— Anne Condodina, Catholic News Service
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