Pope Francis has taken direct aim at the wealthy and powerful, saying in his message for Lent that they are often “slaves to sin” who, if they ignore the poor, “will end up ... plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is hell.”
- NCR Online
“The greater their power and wealth, the more this blindness and deception can grow,” the Pontiff wrote in his annual Lenten exhortation, which was released on Tuesday.
In this year’s message to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics for the penitential season leading to Easter, he talks about the corrupting influence of money and power – while pointing out that caring for the poor, and not just praying for them, is the path to genuine conversion.
“The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated,” the Pope writes. “By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realising that they too are poor and in need.”
Too often, he says, “the real poor are revealed as those who refuse to see themselves as such. … This is because they are slaves to sin, which leads them to use wealth and power not for the service of God and others, but to stifle within their hearts the profound sense that they too are only poor beggars.”
The organising principle of the Lenten message is mercy – just as it is the hallmark of this pontificate and the theme of the special Holy Year jubilee that Pope Francis inaugurated last month.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is February 10 this year, and runs until Holy Week, which starts the observances leading up to Easter Sunday on March 27.
Photo: Pope Francis is silhouetted as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on December 30, 2015. (Reuters)