PAPAL AUDIENCE: THE SICK AND DISABLED, THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS AND THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Ahead of the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis greeted sick and disabled people, saying God has a special place in His heart for people with a disability.
Pope Francis made a special stop in the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall on Wednesday to greet sick and disabled people, giving a warm welcome to the “Deaf Catholic Youth Initiative of the Americas” group and praying for the spiritual outcome of their pilgrimage to Rome.
“Dear friends,” said Francis, “I offer a warm welcome to the group from the ‘Deaf Catholic Youth Initiative of the Americas’. I pray that your pilgrimage – ‘A Time to Walk with Jesus’ – will help you to grow in love for Christ and for one another. The Lord has a special place in his heart for those with any kind of disability, and so does the Successor of Saint Peter! I hope that your time in Rome will be spiritually enriching and strengthen your witness to God’s love for all his children. As you continue your journey, I ask you please remember to pray for me. May Almighty God richly bless you all!”
Afterwards, outside in a sun-blessed St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father continued his new catechesis on the Ten Commandments.
“In our continuing catechesis on the commandments,” he began, “we now consider the text of the Decalogue, the ten commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The text begins with the words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery’ (Ex 20:2). God first identifies himself as our God, the God whose love sets us free from all that enslaves us.”
Francis explained that, “these words show that God’s ‘commands’ are really an invitation to respond with gratitude to his saving love, a love disclosed fully in the coming of Jesus his Son. Gratitude to God for his many gifts, and willingness to accept his offer of love, are at the heart of the Christian moral life; they inspire us to heed God’s words and obey his commands.”
The Pope then paused in his catechesis, leaving aside his prepared remarks, and he asked everyone to be silent for a moment and to think about all the reasons in their own lives that they have reason to be grateful to God.
Continuing his text, the Pope said, “If our obedience to God’s law is servile, mere legalism, then, like the ancient Israelites, we should cry out in prayer to be released from that slavery and to enjoy the freedom of God’s beloved children in Christ. God wants to break every chain that binds us, so that, in loving obedience to his will, we can enjoy true freedom and life in abundance.”
After the catechesis on the commandments, Pope Francis welcomed a delegation from the “Special Olympics” organization: “I extend a special welcome to the delegation from the Special Olympics organization on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation. The world of sport offers a particular opportunity for people to grow in mutual understanding and friendship, and I pray that this Olympic Flame may be a sign of joy and hope in the Lord who bestows the gifts unity and peace on his children. Upon all who support the aims of the Special Olympics, I willingly invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.”