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Pope Francis: follow Christ by performing works of mercy

Catholic World News - June 16, 2014

Chiding those who cite statistics about poverty but do nothing to help the poor, Pope Francis challenged members of Italy’s oldest association of volunteers to follow Jesus by performing works of mercy.

“Following the example of our Master, we are called to draw close to others and to share in the condition of the people we meet,” Pope Francis told 30,000 members of the Misericordie (Mercies), a group founded 770 years ago, as they gathered in St. Peter’s Square on June 15. “Our words, our actions, our attitudes must express solidarity, we must not remain strangers to the pain of others, and we must do this with fraternal warmth and without falling into any form of paternalism.”

Christ “stops at the very first one he encounters and, becoming a presence that helps us, is a sign of the nearness of God, his goodness, providence, and love,” Pope Francis added.

He continued, “The activity of your associations is inspired by the seven corporal works of mercy, which I like to recall, because it will be good to hear them again: to give food to the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to shelter pilgrims, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, to bury the dead.” (“Pilgrims” are the object of the 4th work of mercy in the traditional Italian listing; in English, it is “the homeless.”)

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