I found today’s catechesis on the seventh commandment as interesting as the previous papal general audience catecheses on the Ten Commandments for one main reason. Pope Francis seems to be looking at both sides of each commandment, that is to say, he explores the “Thou Shall not” part, but also looks at the other side of a commandment, he looks at what one “shall” do.

I remember when I worked at the Vatican Information Service and we wrote our own headlines for the Vatican and papal stories we summarized for each day’s news service, it was emphasized at the start of VIS in 1990 that we should always try to emphasize the positive, even if news was negative. Thus, instead of writing “Pope decries abortion,” our headline would read “Pope embraces pro-life work.“ Do that enough, it was thought (or hoped!) and people will probably think positive, instead of negative.


Continuing his catechesis on the Ten Commandments at Wednesday’s general audience in St- Peter’s Square, Pope Francis focused on the seventh commandment: “You shall not steal.” (photo vaticannews)

In his catechesis, Pope Francis noted that there is no culture that does not condemn theft and the misuse of our possessions. But, he says, it is worthwhile to reflect more deeply on the theme of ownership “in light of Christian wisdom.”

Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Pope said, “the goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. … this universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.”

In a world where there are so many differences, so many differences of conditions, God has provided resources in such a way that all human beings must help one another in order to ensure that everyone’s primary needs can be met. “If there is hunger in the world, it is not for lack of food!” he stressed. “What is lacking is a free and far-seeing entrepreneurship, that ensures adequate production, and a solidarity based approach that ensures an equitable distribution.”

This, Pope Francis says, is the perspective that allows us to understand the deeper and fuller meaning of the commandment “You shall not steal.” Ownership, he says, is a responsibility; we can only truly possess “that which we know how to give.” If there are things that we cannot give away, “it is because those things possess me, have power over me, and I am a slave to it.”

Here, the Pope says, we can once more look to the example of Christ Himself, who, “though He was God, ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself’; and He has enriched us with His poverty.” While humanity continually strives for more, “God redeems humanity by becoming poor.” What makes us truly rich, Pope Francis says, “is not goods, but love.”

The Holy Father concluded his catechesis with the reflection that “once more Jesus Christ reveals to us the full meaning of the Scriptures. ‘You shall not steal’ means ‘love with your goods, profit by your means to love as you can. Then your life will become good and the possession will truly become a gift. Because life is not a time for possessing but for forgiving.’”


A press conference at the Holy See Press Office was held on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming Consulta of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
The Consulta of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre is the Order’s main advisory body and is convened every five years. All the highest offices of the Order are represented including, the Cardinal Grand Master, the Grand Magisterium, the Lieutenants and the Magistral Delegates. A representative from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and a representative of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches also attend.

Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, is pictured near a replica of Blessed John Paul II’s crosier and other personal mementos in his residence at the Vatican Nov. 24. Cardinal O’Brien left Rome Nov. 26 for a week-long visit to the Holy Land, his first as grand master of the order. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (Nov. 26, 2012) See OBRIEN-TRIP Nov. 26, 2012.The main aim of the Order “is to strengthen among its members the practice of Christian life, to sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, particularly those of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which also includes Cyprus and Jordan, thus supporting the Christian presence in the Lands of the Bible.”

An Instrumentum Laboris or working document is being drafted by a special commission that the Order says, “will help to direct the reflection of the participants, who will receive it before the meeting.”

Consulta Agenda
Participating at Wednesday’s press conference at the Holy See Press Office was Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, appointed Grand Master by Pope Benedict in 2011. Following the briefing he spoke to Vatican News about the agenda for the upcoming Consulta. “During this meeting we want to be sure we’re on the same page when it comes to the formation of our members and that starts with our Lieutenants… So it is our intention in this Consulta to review our new statutes and to see what role the Lieutenant should play in serving his membership.”

Education focus
During the conference the cardinal spoke about not wanting to see areas of the Middle East become like museums with people leaving their lands to find a better life elsewhere. Asked about this during the interview, the Grand Master said they were putting a focus on education. “Education is no less important in the Holy Land, in Palestine, even more important there because so many things that which they are deprived are beyond their reach, but we want to make education available to all of them and it is something the local pastors take very seriously.”

Cardinal O’Brien went on to say that the Order does its best to support the Pastors of the area and the Bishops “to become one with the people, to identify with their pains and with their needs; to give them some hope, some joy… and these are very important elements for stability.”

The Consulta will take place in Rome from November 13 to 16. (vaticannews)