‘Show mercy, don’t rush to condemn’
Pope Francis, speaking to an overflowing crowd of more than 150,000 in St Peter’s Square, urged the world yesterday to be more forgiving and merciful and not so quick to condemn other people’s failures.
“A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just,” he told the cheering crowd from the window of the papal apartments overlooking the square.
Four days after his election, former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina spoke both as Pope and as parish priest.
Since his election on Wednesday as the firstnon-European
Pope in nearly 1,300 years, Francis has signalled a sharp change of style from his more aloof predecessor, Pope Benedict, and laid out a clear moral path for the 1.2-billion-member Church beset by scandals, intrigue and strife.
“Brothers and sisters, good morning,” he said, using a familiar style that has already become his hallmark.
He wove his address from the window as well as his earlier homily around the Gospel story of the crowd that wanted to stone a woman who had committed adultery but was saved by Jesus.
Jesus told them “let he among you who is without sin, cast the first stone” and then told the woman “go and sin no more”.
“I think even we are sometimes like these people, who on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, sometimes we like to stone others and condemn others. The message of Jesus is this: mercy,” he said at the morning Mass.
“I came because I love this Pope,” said Anna Barone, an elderly woman from southern Italy, as she craned her neck to get a glimpse of him.
“I hope this means a better future for the Church. He seems to have good intentions. I hope they let him make changes.
“The Church must be poor in spirit, not just in material goods. It has to get closer to the people. I am very hopeful,” she said.
In a sign of appreciation that he had taken his name from St Francis of Assisi, who preached to animals and defended nature, a group held up a banner reading: “Animal lovers and animals thank the Pope”.
In both his address and homily, the Pope said people should be open to God’s mercy, even those who have committed grave sins.
“The Lord never tires of forgiving, never! It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness,” he said at the Mass.
His last words before he left the window were: “Have a nice Sunday and have a nice lunch.”