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Pope tells new cardinals to follow Jesus’ compassionate example

Pope Francis emphasized the need for compassion during a Vatican prayer service welcoming 13 new cardinals.    

During an Ordinary Public Consistory, the pope said compassion is a keyword in the Gospel, reported Vatican News. “It is forever written in the heart of God.”

During the service — held in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 5 — the pope gave examples of Jesus’ compassion.

“The more we read, the more we contemplate,” Pope Francis said. “The more we come to realize that the Lord’s compassion is not an occasional, sporadic emotion, but is steadfast and indeed seems to be the attitude of His heart.”

Jesus incarnates God’s will to purify men and women afflicted by the scourge of sin, the pope said. “He is ‘the outstretched hand of God’, who touches our sickly flesh and accomplishes this work by bridging the chasm of separation,” he said.

“[Jesus] goes out in search of the outcast, those without hope,” he said.

Compassion is perpetually within God, something “impressed on his Paternal heart,” he said.

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God’s love for his people is “drenched with compassion,” he said adding that while, “sad to say, it appears that what is human is so often lacking in compassion.”

He said that Jesus’ disciples often lacked compassion and gave the example of when they were dealing with the challenge of feeding crowds but were indifferent to their plight.

“This is a common attitude among us human beings,” Pope Francis said. “There are always justifications; at times they are even codified and give rise to ‘institutional disregard’… which generates structures lacking compassion.”

During the consistory, the pope personally welcomed the new cardinals, who came from 13 different countries, into the College of Cardinals.

He asked if they and the other college members are conscious “of having been the object of God’s compassion… of always having been preceded and accompanied by his mercy.

“Do we have a lively awareness of this compassion that God feels for us?

“Unless I feel that I am the object of God’s compassion, I cannot understand his love. If I don’t feel it, how can I share it, bear witness to it, bestow it on others?” 

The pope went on to say that the ability to be loyal in a ministry depends on this awareness.

“The readiness of a cardinal to shed his own blood, as signified by the scarlet color of your robes, is secure if it is rooted in this awareness of having been shown compassion and in the ability to show compassion in turn. Otherwise, one cannot be loyal.

“Many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion and by the habit of averting one’s gaze, the habit of indifference.” At the end of his homily, the pope prayed for the grace of a compassionate heart, “in order to be witnesses of the one who has looked with favor upon us, who chose us, consecrated us, and sent us to bring to everyone his Gospel of salvation.”

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