GENERAL AUDIENCE: On the Commandment to Not Kill

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    This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

    Continuing with the series of catecheses on the Commandments, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on: Do not kill (Biblical passage: from the Book of Wisdom, 11:24-26).

    After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

    The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

    * * *

    The Holy Father’s Catechesis

    Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

    Today’s catechesis is dedicated to the Fifth Commandment: You shall not kill. The fifth Commandment: do not kill. We are now in the second part of the Decalogue, which concerns relations with one’s neighbour. And this Commandment, with its concise and categorical formulation, stands as a wall of defense of the basic value in human relations. And what is the basic value in human relations? The value of life.[1] Therefore, do not kill.

    It could be said that all the evil done in the world is summarized in this: the contempt for life. Life is attacked by wars, by organizations that exploit man — we read in the newspapers or see in the television news so many things — by speculation on creation and the disposable culture, and by all systems that subject human existence to calculations of opportunity, while a scandalous number of people live in a state unworthy of man. This is to scorn life, namely, in some way to kill.

    A contradictory approach also allows the suppression of human life in the maternal womb in the name of safeguarding other rights. But how can an act that does away with innocent and defenseless life in its origin be therapeutic, civil or simply human? I ask you: is it right to “take out” a human life to resolve a problem? Is it right to hire an assassin to resolve a problem? It can’t be done, it’s not right to “take out” a human being, although small, to resolve a problem. It’s like hiring an assassin to resolve a problem.

    From where does all this come? From where, deep down, are violence and the rejection of life born? From fear. Acceptance of the other, in fact, is a challenge to individualism. We think, for instance, when it is discovered that an unborn life is the bearer of disability, even grave. In these dramatic cases, the parents are in need of real closeness, of real solidarity to face the reality, overcoming the understandable fears. Instead, they often receive hasty advice to interrupt the pregnancy, that is, it’s a way of saying: “to interrupt a pregnancy” means to “take one out” directly.

    A sick baby is like any needy person on earth, as an elderly man who needs help, as so many poor that struggle to go on: he or she who appears as a problem is, in reality, a gift of God that can draw me out of egocentrism and make me grow in love. Vulnerable life points out to us the way out, the way to save us from an inward-looking existence and to discover the joy of love. And I would like to pause here to thank, to thank so many volunteers, to thank the strong Italian voluntary work, which is the strongest I’ve known. Thank you.

    And what leads man to reject life? It’s the idols of this world: money — better to take this away from our midst, because it will cost –, power <and> success. These are erroneous parameters to value 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 every human life.

    In fact, what is the positive meaning of the Word “Do not kill”? That God is “lover of life,” as we heard a short while ago in the biblical Reading.

    The secret of life was revealed by the way the Son of God treated it, who made Himself man to assuming, on the cross, rejection, weakness, poverty and pain (Cf. John 13:1). In every sick child, in every weak elderly man, in every desperate migrant, in every fragile and threatened life Christ is seeking us (Cf. Matthew 25:34-46), He is seeking our heart, to unlock for us the joy of love.

    It’s worthwhile to receive every life because every man is worth the Blood of Christ Himself (Cf. 1 Peter 1:18-19). One can’t scorn what God has so loved!

    We must say to the men and women of the world: don’t scorn life! The life of others, but also one’s own, because for it also the Commandment “Do not kill” is true. So many young people are told: don’t scorn your existence! Stop rejecting God’s work! You are a work of God! Don’t underestimate yourself, don’t scorn yourself with addictions that will ruin you and lead you to death!

    No one should measure life according to the deceits of this world, but each one should accept himself and others in the name of the Father who has created us. He is “lover of life”: this is beautiful. “God is lover of life.” And we are all so dear to Him that He sent His Son for us. The Gospel says, in fact: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

    [Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
    In Italian

    A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.

    I’m happy to receive the Friars Minor Conventual; the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

    I greet the schools; the parishes, in particular that of Minors, together with a delegation of Patti, with the Archbishop Orazio Soricelli; and that of Ostra Vetere; the National Consortium of Olive Growers; the delegation of the Municipality of Cervia; the Chamber of Commerce of Viterbo; the Multiple Chemical Sensibility Coordination; the AVIS Association of Catanzaro and the Italian Red Cross of Bellegra.

    A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.

    The month of October is dedicated to the missions and to the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Beloveds, by praying the Rosary, you invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary on all your needs and on the Church, so that she can be ever more holy and missionary, united in going on the roads of the world and in agreement in taking Christ to every man.

    [Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
    [1] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Istr. Donum vitae, 5: AAS 80 (1988), 76-77: “Human life is sacred because, from its beginning it implies God’s creative action and remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, its one end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning to its end: no one, in any circumstance, can claim for himself the right to destroy directly an innocent human being.”

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