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Vatican City

God's tenderness can soften the hardest hearts, pope says

Pontiff calls on people to have open minds and hearts, not to easily condemn others

Published: May 04, 2017 03:50 AM GMT

Updated: May 04, 2017 03:51 AM GMT

God's tenderness can soften the hardest hearts, pope says

Pope Francis arrives for a weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)

God's compassion can change the rigid hearts of those who use his law to condemn others, Pope Francis said.

A person with a hardened, "pagan heart does not allow the Spirit to enter" and often relies on his or her own strength and intellect rather than understanding God's will through humility, the pope said May 2 during a Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"They do not know that the Word became flesh, that the Word is a witness to obedience," the pope said. "They do not know that God's tenderness is able to take out a heart of stone and put in its place a heart of flesh," Catholic News Service reported him as saying.

The pope spoke of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, stoned to death after denouncing scribes and elders "as stiff-necked people" that "always oppose the Holy Spirit."

Unlike the disciples at Emmaus whose hearts were opened after being reproached by Jesus as "foolish," the elders who stoned Stephen gave into their anger at being corrected. This, the pope said, is the tragedy of those "with closed hearts, hardened hearts."

"This makes the church suffer very, very much: closed hearts, hearts of stone, hearts that do not want to be open, that do not want to listen, hearts that only know the language of condemnation," the pope said.

"They know how to condemn, but they do not know how to say, 'Explain this to me. Why do you say this? …. No, they are closed. They know everything. They have no need for an explanation," he said.

Those who stoned the church's first martyr had "no space in their hearts for the Holy Spirit," who allow Christians to look on others with the same tenderness God has "toward us, toward our sins, our weaknesses," Pope Francis said.

Full story: God's tenderness can soften the hardest hearts, pope says

Source: Catholic News Service

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