apple-touch-icon

Pope Francis at general audience: ‘Love is charity’

Pope Francis at general audience: ‘Love is charity’

Pope Francis addresses the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience on May 15, 2024, at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, May 15, 2024 / 09:10 am (CNA).

During his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis reflected on charity — what he described as the “culmination” of the theological virtues — observing that it is the highest expression of Christian love, predicated on truth and underscored by forgiveness.

“Love is charity. We immediately realize that it is a difficult, indeed impossible love to practice if one does not live in God. Our human nature makes us love spontaneously what is good and beautiful,” Pope Francis said to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on a sunny morning in Rome.

Pointing to the Sermon on the Mount and repeating twice the Christian maxim “love your enemy,” the pope noted that this teaching represents the highest expression of Christian love, as it “embraces what is not lovable; it offers forgiveness.”

Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience on May 15, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

“It is a love so ardent that it seems almost impossible,” the pope continued, “and yet it is the only thing that will remain of us. Love is the ‘narrow gate’ through which we will pass in order to enter the kingdom of God.”

Looking at the various manifestations of love, the pope noted that Christians “are capable of all the forms of love in the world” such as that expressed toward friends, civic love, and “the universal love for all humanity.”

But Francis stressed that it is the theological virtue of charity that enables Christians to love “those who are not lovable” and “those who do not care for us and are not grateful.”

“This comes from God, it is the work of the Holy Spirit in us,” he added.

Pope Francis also centered his catechesis on St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, noting that the apostle was speaking to a community divided and “anything but perfect in fraternal love.”

Francis observed that Paul is urging the Corinthians to embrace “not the love that rises but the one that descends.”

Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience on May 15, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

“Paul,” the pope added, “is concerned that in Corinth — as among us today too — there is confusion and that there is actually no trace of the theological virtue of love.”

The pope contrasted the theological notions of love and charity with contemporary notions such as the one “on the lips of many ‘influencers’” or heard “in the refrains of many songs.”

At the end of the general audience, the pope stressed the importance of the Holy Spirit in light of the solemnity of Pentecost, which will be celebrated on Sunday.

The pope implored the faithful to “be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit,” which he described as “a source of relief for everyone in their trials.”

The pope also prayed for those affected by recent flash flooding in northern Afghanistan, which has left over 300 people dead and injured more than 1,600.

“I pray for the victims, in particular for the children and their families, and I appeal to the international community to immediately provide the aid and support necessary to protect the most vulnerable,” the pope said.

Share This Post

Duleek Parish