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Pope Warns Mercy Is Not ‘Philanthropy’ Nor ‘Pitying’

Francis Sends Video Message to Conference in Argentina

Pope Francis has reminded faithful to make sure they have straight what mercy truly is.

According to Vatican Radio, the Pontiff had done so in a video-message he sent Saturday to the participants of the 14th national meeting of the ‘Open Hands’ gathering in Santa Fe, Argentina, warning that mercy should not be confused for pitying nor philanthropy.

The Christian volunteer organization, Manos Abiertas “Open Hands,” was founded in 1992 at Villa de Mayo, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, by Jesuit Father Angel Rossi, with the motto “love and serve.” The theme of the national event this year was “Mercy: A Trip from the Heart to the Hands.””

In his video-message, Pope Francis recalled the parable of the Good Samaritan, and how it exemplifies mercy.

“The heart, which in the Good Samaritan is like that of Jesus, was touched by misery: The misery he saw there, the misery of that widowed mother whom Jesus saw, that misery of pain and the misery of the beaten man who was seen by the Samaritan.” When his heart was united with the other’s suffering, that, Francis pointed out, was true mercy.

Pitying Is Different

Mercy, the Pontiff stated, is not the same as pitying.

“When the misery of the other comes into my heart, I feel mercy; which is not the same as to have pity, pity is another feeling,” the Pope said.

“I can feel pity when I see a wounded animal or such a situation, but mercy is another feeling,” Francis added. “It is when the misery of another, or a situation of pain or misery, gets into my heart, and I permit the situation to touch my heart.  I say this: It is an outward journey, the journey of misery to the heart. And this is the path: It is not mercy if it is not of the heart, a heart wounded by the misery of another.”

Not Mere Philanthropy

Mercy, the Pontiff also underscored, is not ‘mere philanthropy.’

“It is distinct from having good feelings; this is not mercy, it is having good feelings,” Pope Francis explained. “It is distinct from hands-on philanthropy, which is not mercy: It is good, it is good, philanthropy is not a bad thing, but it is not mercy, which is another thing.

“Mercy is the journey of misery to my heart, taken up by my heart, that moves my heart; and sometimes it moves so much that the heart becomes like a compass at the North Pole, and does not know where to stop, because of what it feels.”

Some Advice

Francis then went on to explain how one can discern whether something is mercy or pity.

“First,” he advised, “you must ask for the grace to have mercy; it is a grace, and we must ask it of the Lord.”

“The only way to have mercy is to yourself recognize your own sin, and be forgiven by the Lord;  through recognizing sin and forgiveness. You can be merciful only if you truly feel that you have received the mercy of the Lord, otherwise you cannot be merciful … and having received mercy, you will be merciful.”

The Pope then encouraged faithful to let the mercy they’ve ever received inspire them to bring it to others.

“Stop torturing yourself over what wounded your heart, both by others and yourself,” Francis stressed, concluding, “Let yourself receive mercy and begin the ‘return trip,’ and with your hands give mercy to others, spreading mercy and love.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation: to be made available shortly

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages). She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, EWTN and Salt & Light. For 'The Other Francis': https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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