Pope's Angelus Address: Sunday 7th September

“Before God we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. Everyone! In fact, Jesus told us not to judge.”

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At 12pm today, the Holy Father Francis appeared at the window of the study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Here below are the words of the Pope in introducing the Marian prayer:

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Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

The Gospel of this Sunday, taken from the 18th chapter of Matthew, presents the theme of fraternal correction in the community of believers. Jesus teaches us that if my brother sins against me, I have to use charity towards him and, first of all, talk to him personally, explaining that what he has said or done is not good. And if the brother does not listen to me? Jesus suggests a progressive intervention: first, go back with two or three other people to make him more aware of the mistake he has made. If, despite this, he does not accept the exhortation, I need to tell the community. And if he won’t even listen to the community, I need to make him feel the fracture and detachment that he himself has caused, by failing in communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith.

The stages of this route show the effort the Lord asks of his community to accompany those who make mistakes, so they are not lost. It is first necessary to avoid the clamor of news and the gossip of the community: “Go and admonish, you and him alone” (verse. 15). An attitude of gentleness, prudence, humility, and attention against those who have committed a crime, avoiding that words can hurt and kill the brother. Because, you know, eh? Even words kill! When I make an unfair criticism, when I “curse” a brother with my tongue, this is killing the reputation of the other! Even words kill! Let’s be serious about this… At the same time this discretion has the purpose of not unnecessarily mortifying the sinner. The two have a talk, no one notices and it’s all over. It is in light of this need, which also includes this series of interventions, which includes involving some witnesses and then even the community. The goal is to help the person realize what he has done, and that with his sin, he has offended not just one, but all. But it also helps us – us – to free ourselves from anger or resentment which only hurt: that bitterness of the heart that brings anger and resentment, and that lead us to insult and attack. But it is very bad to see this come out of the mouth of a Christian as an insult or an attack! It’s bad! Got it? No insults! Insulting is not Christian!

In fact, before God we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. Everyone! In fact, Jesus told us not to judge. Fraternal correction is a matter of love and communion that must prevail in the Christian community, it is a reciprocal service that we can and must render for one another. And it is possible and effective only if everyone is a sinner and in need of forgiveness of the Lord. The same conscience that makes me recognize the mistake of the other, beforehand reminds me that I have erred and wronged so many times.

For this reason, at the beginning of the Mass, every time we are asked to recognize that we are sinners before the Lord, expressing with words and gestures sincere repentance of the heart. And we say: “Have mercy on me, Lord. I am a sinner! I confess, Almighty God, my sins.” We don’t say: “Oh Lord, have mercy on this person next to me or those that are sinners”. No! “Have mercy on me!” All are sinners and in need of the Lord’s forgiveness. It is the Holy Spirit who speaks to our spirit and makes us recognize our faults in the light of the word of Jesus. And it is the same Jesus who invites us all, saints and sinners, to his table by gathering us on the main crossroads, the various situations life (cf. Mt 22.9 to 10). And among the conditions that are common to those participating in the celebration of the Eucharist, two are fundamental: we are all sinners and God gives everyone his mercy. We must always remember this before going to the brother to offer fraternal correction.

We ask all of this through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, noting that tomorrow we will celebrate the liturgical feast of her Nativity.

[Original text: Italian]

After the Angelus:

In these last few days have been significant steps in the search for a truce in the regions affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. I hope that they can bring relief to the population and contribute to the efforts for a lasting peace. I pray that, in the logic of the meeting, the dialogue that has started will continue to bear the fruit that is hoped.

Also I add my voice to that of the Bishops of Lesotho, who appealed for peace in that country. I condemn all acts of violence and pray to the Lord that the Kingdom of Lesotho will restore peace and justice in fraternity.

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet all the pilgrims from Italy and other countries, in particular the group of Brazilians, the students of St. Basil the Great School of Presov (Slovakia), the faithful of Sulzano (Brescia), Gravina di Puglia, Castiglion Fiorentino, Poggio Rusco (Mantova), Albignasego (Padua), of Molino High (Vicenza), the boys of Confirmation of Matera, Valdagno and Vibo Valentia.

To all of you I ask you to please pray for me, and I wish you a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT working translation]
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