Forgiveness turns evil into good, pope tells Catholics in Geneva

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

(CNS) — At the end of a day dedicated to celebrating 70 years of an ecumenical
fellowship forged by the World Council of Churches, Pope Francis turned to the
region’s Catholics, reminding them of what lies at the heart of the faith.

Lord’s Prayer “offers us a road map for the spiritual life” by
reminding people they are part of one human family, that they should live a simpler,
more caring life and that forgiveness works miracles in history, he said.

is no greater novelty than forgiveness, which turns evil into good,” he
told 40,000 Catholics from Switzerland, France and other nations not far from
this landlocked country, whose history was built on the values of peace and

pope was in Geneva June 21 “as a pilgrim in quest of unity and
peace,” for a one-day journey celebrating the 70th anniversary of the
founding of the World Council of Churches — a fellowship of 350 ecclesial
communities, including many Orthodox churches, who represent some 500 million
Christians worldwide. The Catholic Church, which cooperates extensively with
the council, is not a full member.

Mass at the city’s enormous indoor expo center, the pope pointed to the
essential lessons contained in the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus teaches his
disciples in the day’s Gospel reading.

pope first circled the vast indoor center in a small white electric cart, greeting
the faithful and blessing babies. Former pontifical Swiss guards in traditional
uniform were present, standing at attention, representing their service rendered
for more than 500 years in Rome.

bread, forgiveness,” Pope Francis said in his homily. These are the three
words in the Lord’s Prayer “that take us to the very heart of our

praying “Our Father, who art in heaven,” people are reminded that God
“does not group us together in little clubs, but gives us new life and
makes us one large family.”

prayer says that “every human being is part of us,” he said, and that
“we are called to be good guardians of our family, to overcome all
indifference toward” everyone. “This includes the unborn, the older
person who can no longer speak, the person we find hard to forgive, the poor
and the outcast.”

commands his children to love each other from the heart, he said.

praying, “Give us this day, our daily bread,” it is asking God to
“help me lead a simpler life.”

has become so complicated,” he said, with everyone acting “pumped up,
rushing from dawn to dusk, between countless phone calls and texts with no time
to see other people’s faces, full of stress from complicated and constantly
changing problems.”

need to choose a sober lifestyle, free of unnecessary hassles,” the pope
said, pointing to the example of a fellow Jesuit, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose
feast day is June 21. The 16th-century Italian saint renounced his family’s
wealth and desired an austere religious life to better serve others.

so much abundance in the world, the pope said, it fills up people’s lives and
empties their hearts.

people rediscover “the courage of silence and of prayer” and
“let us choose people over things so that personal, not virtual
relationships may flourish.”

bread” also means to never forget the life-giving power of Jesus; “he
is our regular diet for healthy living. Sometimes however, we treat Jesus as a
side dish.”

him every day, life is meaningless, the pope said.

the prayer calls for forgiveness, which is not easy, but it is a gift.

forgives everything and yet, “he asks only one thing of us: that we in
turn never tire of forgiving. He wants to issue a general amnesty for the sins
of others.”

up to God those lingering dregs of resentment and bitterness that prevent complete
forgiveness, the pope said.

taking an X-ray of the heart, and point to the “stones needing to be
removed,” the pope said. Pray to God, “You see this stone? I hand it
over to you and I pray for this person, for that situation; even if I struggle
to forgive, I ask you for the strength to do it.”

renews and works miracles, he said. After receiving God’s forgiveness,
“each of us is born again as a new creation when we love our brothers and
sisters. Only then do we bring true newness to the world.”

pope said God is pleased “when we love one another and we forgive each
other from the heart.”

us take the first step, in prayer, in fraternal encounter, in concrete
charity” and, like God, love without ever counting the cost.

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Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz

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