Piety and pity are active expressions of mercy, pope says

Pope Francis smiles as he leaves at the end of the jubilee audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 14. (CNS/Reuters)

Pope Francis smiles as he leaves at the end of the jubilee audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 14. (CNS/Reuters)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — True piety and evangelical pity are found together in those who are moved by the pain of others, take action to help them and, therefore, share God’s mercy, Pope Francis said.

“We are called to cultivate attitudes of pity in the face of many situations in life, shaking off the indifference that prevents us from recognizing the needs of our brothers and sisters and liberating ourselves from slavery to material well-being,” the pope said May 14 at a jubilee general audience.

During the Year of Mercy, the pope is holding special general audiences one Saturday each month and using the occasion to speak about the importance of experiencing God’s mercy and sharing it with others.

“For Jesus,” he said, “experiencing pity means sharing the sadness of those one encounters, but at the same time, working to transform sadness into joy.”

True piety and true pity are not superficial feelings, he said, but are expressions of compassion and mercy.

Pity must not be confused “with the compassion we feel for the animals that live with us,” he said. “In fact, it sometimes happens that one feels pity toward animals, but remains indifferent to the suffering of our brothers and sisters. How many times do we see people so attached to cats and dogs and yet they leave their neighbor without the help they need.”

Also during the jubilee year, as an example of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, the pope is making a private visit each month to people with special needs. He has visited a home for the elderly, a community for recovering addicts and a refugee camp in Greece.

He went to a L’Arche Community in Ciampino, near Rome, May 13 and spent the afternoon with 18 people who have developmental disabilities and the volunteers who have built a home with them. He brought pastries, peaches and cherries with him and took part in the community’s afternoon snack break before praying with the community in the small chapel.

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