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Pope Francis Emphasizes Charity as the Pinnacle of Christian Love

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During his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis reflected on charity, which he described as the "culmination" of the theological virtues. He emphasized that charity is the highest expression of Christian love, rooted in truth and highlighted by forgiveness.

Photo credit: Skye Studios

Photo credit: Skye Studios


By Catholic Online (California Network)
5/15/2024 (6 days ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Charity, Christian love, forgiveness, Holy Spirit, theological virtues, Sermon on the Mount

"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.

Referring to the Sermon on the Mount and repeating the Christian maxim "love your enemy," the pope noted that this teaching represents the pinnacle of Christian love, as it "embraces what is not lovable; it offers forgiveness."

"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."

Addressing 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." However, 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 focused 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."

"Paul," the pope added, "is concerned that in Corinth â€" as among us today too â€" there is confusion and that there is actually no trace of the theological virtue of love." He 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.

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