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Do not kill

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Commandments (1 of 2)
General Audience, Wednesday 10 October 2018 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today’s catechesis is dedicated to the Fifth Word: You shall not kill. The fifth Commandment: you shall not kill. We are already in the second part of the Decalogue, the part which deals with relationships with our neighbour. And, with its concise and categorical formulation, this commandment rises up like a wall to defend the basic values of human relationships. And what is the basic value in human relationships?: the value of life. [1]Thus, you shall not kill.

One could say that all the evil carried out in the world can be summed up in this: contempt for life. Life is assailed by war, by organizations that exploit people — we read in newspapers or see in newscasts many facts — by speculations on creation and by the throwaway culture and by every system that subjugates human existence to calculated opportunities, while a scandalous number of people live in a state unworthy of mankind. This is having contempt for life, that is, in some way, killing.

A contradictory approach even permits the termination of human life in the maternal womb, in the name of safeguarding other rights. But how can an action that ends an innocent and defenceless life in its blossoming stage be therapeutic, civilized or simply human? I ask you: is it right to ‘do away with’ a human life in order to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hit man in order to solve a problem? One cannot. It is not right to ‘do away with’ a human being, however small, in order to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hit man to solve a problem.

Where does all this come from? Violence and the rejection of life; where do they actually come from? From fear. Indeed, welcoming others is a challenge to individualism. Let us think, for example, about when it is discovered that a new life has a disability, even a serious one. In these tragic cases, parents need true closeness, true solidarity to face the reality and overcome the understandable fears. However, they often receive hasty advice to interrupt the pregnancy, which is an expression: ‘interrupting the pregnancy’ means ‘doing away with someone’, directly.

A sick child is like any other needy person on earth, like an elderly person who needs assistance, like many poor people who struggle to get by. He or she who is seen as a problem is in reality a gift from God that can save me from egocentrism and help me to grow in love. Vulnerable life shows us the way out, the way to save ourselves from a life that withdraws into itself and to discover the joy of love. And here I would like to pause to thank, to thank the many volunteers, to thank Italy’s strong volunteerism, the strongest I have ever known. Thank you.

And what leads man to reject life? It is the idols of this world: money — better to get rid of this one because it will be costly —, power, success. These are the wrong parameters for evaluating life. What is the only authentic measure of life? It is love, the love with which God loves it! The love with which God loves life: this is the measure. The love with which God loves all human life.

Indeed, what is the positive meaning of the Word “you shall not kill”? That God is a “lover of life”, as we heard a short time ago in the Bible passage.

The secret of life is revealed to us by the way it was regarded by the Son of God who became man, to the point of assuming on the Cross rejection, weakness, poverty and suffering (cf. Jn 13:1). In every sick child, in every weak elderly person, in every desperate migrant, in every fragile and threatened life. Christ is seeking us (cf. Mt 25:34-46), he is seeking our heart, to open us up to the joy of love.

It is worthwhile to welcome every life because every man and woman is worth the blood of Christ himself (cf. 1 Pt 1:18-19). We cannot have contempt for what God has loved so much!

We must tell the men and women of the world: do not have contempt for life! The life of others, but also one’s own life because the Commandment “thou shall not kill” applies to it too. Many young people should be told, “do not have contempt for your life. Stop rejecting God’s work! You are a work of God! Do not underestimate yourself, do not despise yourself with the addictions that will ruin you and lead you to death!

May no one measure life according to the deceptions of this world, but instead may each one accept him or herself and others in the name of the Father who created us. He is a “lover of life”: this is beautiful. “God is a lover of life”. And we are all so dear to him that he sent his Son for us. In fact, the Gospel says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son; that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16)."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins francophones, venus de France, de Suisse et de l’Île Maurice, en particulier les diocésains de Vannes et de Saint-Brieuc. Chers amis, ne méprisez jamais votre existence, vous êtes une œuvre de Dieu ! Témoignez autour de vous de la valeur infinie de toute vie humaine ! Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Canada, Curaçao and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you all!

Von Herzen grüße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache, insbesondere die zahlreichen Jugendlichen, die Schulgruppen des Gauß-Gymnasiums Gelsenkirchen, des Collegium Gaesdonck und der Liebfrauenschule Ratingen sowie die Teilnehmer an der Informationswoche der Päpstlichen Schweizer Garde. Der Herr segne euch und begleite euch auf eurem Weg.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en modo particular a los grupos provenientes de España y América Latina. Los animo a que siguiendo el ejemplo de Jesús, que vino a dar su vida por nosotros, sepamos acoger y proteger la propia vida y la de los demás en el nombre de Dios Padre. Muchas gracias.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, dirijo uma cordial saudação a todos, particularmente aos fiéis da paróquia Nossa Senhora da Paz, do Rio de Janeiro. Este mês de Outubro encoraja-nos a perseverar na reza diária do terço, possivelmente em família, para que se reflita também na Igreja doméstica o modelo de Maria. O segredo da sua serenidade e confiança estava nesta certeza: «A Deus, nada é impossível». Desça, pois, sobre vós e vossas famílias a Bênção do Senhor.

أرحب بمودة بالحاضرين الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من مصر ومن لبنان ومن الشرق الأوسط. لا تقتل هي وصية إلهية تؤكد قدسية الحياة الإنسانية كهبة من الله، لا يحق لأحد، تحت أي ظرف من الظروف، أن يعتدي عليها، أو يتلاعب بها أو يحتقرها. فالقتل هو خطيئة ضد الله، سيد الحياة، ضد أنفسنا وضد القريب. ليبارككم الرب جميعا ويحرسكم من الشرير‏!‏‏

Witam polskich pielgrzymów. Zanim przyjechałem na plac, miałem możność pozdrowić uczestników pielgrzymki Archidiecezji Krakowskiej, którzy przybyli do Rzymu z okazji 40-lecia wyniesienia Jana Pawła II na Stolicę Piotrową. Teraz chcę pozdrowić wszystkich Was, tu obecnych i waszych rodaków. Razem z wami dziękuję Chrystusowi, Panu czasów, że zechciał powołać z waszej ziemi tego wielkiego Papieża i powierzył mu zadanie wprowadzenia Kościoła w nowe tysiąclecie. Jego nauczanie, przykład świętości i wstawiennictwo niech nas prowadzi i strzeże w codziennej, czasem trudnej wędrówce po drogach Pana! Z serca wam błogosławię!"

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"Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di accogliere i Frati Minori Conventuali; le Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice e le Suore Francescane dell’Immacolata Concezione.

Saluto le scolaresche; le parrocchie, in particolare quella di Minori, insieme ad una delegazione di Patti, con l’Arcivescovo Orazio Soricelli; e quella di Ostra Vetere; il Consorzio nazionale degli Olivicoltori; la delegazione del Comune di Cervia; la Camera di Commercio di Viterbo; il Coordinamento Sensibilità Chimica Multipla; l’Associazione AVIS di Catanzaro e la Croce Rossa Italiana di Bellegra.

I extend a special greeting to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. The month of October is dedicated to the missions and to praying the Holy Rosary. My dear friends, by praying the Rosary, you are invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary on your every need and on the Church, so that she may be ever more holy and missionary, united in traveling the roads of the world and united in bringing Christ to everyone."

[1] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Vitae, 5: aas 80 (1988), 76-77: “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves ‘the creative action of God’ and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can, in any circumstance, claim for himself the right to destroy directly an innocent human being”.

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Commandments (2 of 2)
General Audience, Wednesday 17 October 2018 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today I would like to continue the catechesis on the Fifth Word of the Decalogue, “You shall not kill”. We have already emphasized how this Commandment reveals that in God’s eyes human life is precious, sacred and inviolable. No one can have contempt for his own or another’s life; indeed, man bears God’s image within and is the object of His infinite love, in whatever condition he was called into existence.

In the Gospel passage we listened to a short time ago, Jesus reveals to us an even deeper meaning of this Commandment. He affirms that, before God’s tribunal, even ire against a brother or sister is a form of murder. This is why the Apostle John would write: “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 Jn 3:15). But Jesus does not stop at this, and in the same logic he adds that even insult and contempt can kill. And we are used to insulting, it is true. We tend to insult like exhaling. And Jesus tells us: ‘Stop, because an insult does harm; it kills’. Contempt. ‘But I detest these people, this person’. And this is a way of killing a person’s dignity. It would be nice if this teaching of Jesus were to enter the mind and heart, and each of us would say: ‘I will never insult anyone’. It would be a fine objective, because Jesus tells us: ‘Look, if you harbour contempt, if you insult, if you hate, this is murder’.

No human code equates such different acts, assigning them the same level of justice. And consistently, Jesus actually exhorts us to interrupt the offering of sacrifice in the temple if we remember that we have offended a brother, in order to go and find him and reconcile with him. Also, when we go to Mass, we should have this attitude of reconciliation with the people we have had differences with. Even if we have thought ill of them, we have insulted them. But many times, while we are waiting for the priest to come and say Mass, we gossip a little and speak ill of others. But we cannot do this. Let us think about the gravity of an insult, of contempt, of hatred: Jesus equates them to killing.

What does Jesus mean by extending the field of the Fifth Word to this point? Man has a noble, very sensitive life, and has a hidden ‘I’ no less important than his physical being. Indeed, an inopportune phrase is enough to offend the innocence of a child. A cold gesture can suffice to wound a woman. To break a young person’s heart, it suffices to rebuff his confidence. To annihilate a man, it suffices to ignore him. Indifference kills. It is like telling the other person: ‘you are dead to me’, because you have killed him in your heart. Not loving is the first step to killing; and not killing is the first step to loving.

At the beginning of the Bible, we read the terrible phrase that issues from the lips of the first murderer, Cain, after the Lord asks him where his brother is. Cain responds: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).[1] This is how assassins speak: ‘it is not my concern’, ‘that is your business’, and similar assertions. Let us try to answer this question: are we our brothers’ keepers? Yes, we are! We are each other’s keepers! And this is the path to life; it is the path of not killing.

Human life needs love. And what is authentic love? It is what Christ showed us, namely, mercy. The love we cannot forego is forgiveness, which accepts those who have wronged us. None of us can survive without mercy; we all need forgiveness. Therefore, if to kill means to destroy, terminate, eliminate someone, then not to kill would mean to care for, appreciate, include. And also forgive.

No one can delude him or herself: ‘I am fine because I do nothing wrong’. A mineral or plant has this type of existence, however, man does not. A person — man or woman — does not. More is asked of a man or woman. There is good to be done, prepared for each of us, each his or her own, which makes us ourselves at the core. ‘You shall not kill’ is an appeal to love and mercy; it is a call to live according to the Lord Jesus, who gave his life for us and rose for us. Once, here in the Square, we all repeated together a Saint’s expression about this. Perhaps it will help us: ‘It is good to do no wrong, but it is wrong to do no good’. We must always do good; go a step further.

The Lord, who by becoming flesh sanctified our existence; he, who with his blood made our life invaluable; he, “the Author of life” (Acts 3:15), thanks to whom each one is a gift of the Father. In him, in his love stronger than death, and by the power of the Spirit whom the Father gives us, we can accept the Word “You shall not kill” as the most important and essential appeal: that is, ‘you shall not kill’ signifies a call to love."

Saluti :

"Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus de France et de divers pays francophones, en particulier des pèlerins de Chambéry et de Nancy, avec leurs évêques Mgr Ballot et Mgr Papin, tous les jeunes présents, ceux de Versailles, de Paris, de Fougères, de Bucquoy, de Rouen et d’Évreux, ainsi que des pèlerins de Namur. Puissions-nous accueillir en Jésus, dans son amour plus fort que la mort, et par le don de l’Esprit du Père, le commandement «& tu ne tueras pas ». C’est l’appel le plus important et le plus essentiel de nos vies : l’appel à l’amour ! Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Indonesia, Canada and the United States of America. In this month dedicated to praying the rosary, may Our Lady of the Rosary accompany you, and upon all of you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

Gerne heiße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache willkommen. Insbesondere grüße ich die Schützen aus Drolshagen-Schreibershof und die verschiedenen Jugendgruppen, vor allem die Maria Ward Realschule Augsburg, die Liebfrauenschule Berlin, die Ministranten der Pfarrei St. Remigius Viersen und die Ministrantenwallfahrt des Erzbistums Köln. Ihr seid zahlreich gekommen, danke! Der Herr helfe euch, in der Liebe zu wachsen, und beschütze euch allezeit.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica. Que el Señor Jesús, Autor de la vida, nos conceda comprender que el mandamiento «no matarás» es, ante todo, una llamada al amor y a la misericordia, una invitación a vivir como Él, que por nosotros murió y resucitó. Santa María, Madre de la Misericordia, nos ampare e interceda por nosotros. Muchas gracias.

Saúdo os peregrinos vindos de Portugal e do Brasil, particularmente os fiéis de Itu, Várzea Paulista e Tubarão. Queridos amigos, cuidar do irmão, especialmente de quem passa necessidade ou é esquecido pela cultura do descarte, significa crer que cada homem e cada mulher é um dom de Deus. Não poupemos esforços para que todas as pessoas possam sentir-se sempre acolhidas e amadas nas nossas comunidades cristãs. Que Deus vos abençoe!

أرحّب بمودّة بالحاضرين الناطقين باللغة العربيّة، وخاصة بالقادمين من سوريا، ومن العراق ومن الشرق الأوسط. لقد أوضح يسوع أن وصية لا تقتل تشمل أيضا كل الأعمال والأقوال التي تسيء لسمعة الآخر وتحط منه وتقلل من كرامته، كالغضب والنميمة وسوء المعاملة. لقد قدم يسوع هذه الوصية بطريقة تتخطى مجرد المنع من القتل لتنفتح على رحاب المحبة الواسعة: لا تقتل تعني أحبب وافعل ما تشاء. ليبارككم الربّ جميعًا ويحرسكم من الشرّير!

Witam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. Wczoraj minęło 40 lat od wyboru na Stolicę Piotrową Karola Wojtyły, św. Jana Pawła II. Oklaski dla św. Jana Pawła II. Jakże aktualne są jego słowa, wypowiedziane w dniu inauguracji pontyfikatu: Nie lękajcie się! Otwórzcie, otwórzcie na oścież drzwi Chrystusowi! Niech nadal inspirują one wasze życie osobiste, rodzinne i społeczne; niech będą zachętą do wiernego kroczenia za Chrystusem, dostrzegania Jego obecności w świecie, w drugim człowieku, zwłaszcza w ubogim i potrzebującym pomocy. Człowiek, bowiem, jak nauczał Papież z rodu Polaków, jest drogą Kościoła. Z serca Wam błogosławię.

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Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di accogliere le Capitolari delle Benedettine Missionarie di Tutzing e i partecipanti al Convegno mondiale di Radio Maria.

Saluto i gruppi parrocchiali; il personale militare e civile del Comando logistico dell’Aeronautica Militare; la Delegazione del “Popolo della famiglia”; il Centro italiano aiuti all’Infanzia; l’Associazione Bambino emopatico e la Comunità Villa San Francesco.

I address a special thought to young people, to the elderly, to the sick and to newlyweds. Today we observe the liturgical memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a bishop and martyr in Rome. Let us learn from this holy bishop of ancient Syria to courageously bear witness to our faith. By his intercession, may the Lord give each of us the strength of perseverance in spite of adversities and persecution."

[1] Cfr Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, 2259: «La scrittura, nel racconto dell’uccisione di Abele da parte del fratello Caino, rivela fin dagli inizi della storia umana, la presenza nell’uomo della collera e della cupidigia, conseguenze del peccato originale. L’uomo è diventato il nemico del suo simile. Dio dichiara la scelleratezza di questo fratricidio: “Che hai fatto? La voce del sangue di tuo fratello grida a me dal suolo! Ora sii maledetto lungi da quel suolo che per opera della tua mano ha bevuto il sangue di tuo fratello” (Gen 4,10-11)».