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GENERAL AUDIENCE: On the 5th Commandment ‘Thou Shall Not Kill’

October 10, 2018. ‘How can an act that suppresses innocent and defenseless budding human life be therapeutic, civil or simply human? I ask you: it is right to do away with a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? One cannot do this…’

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 is 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 permits the suppression of human life in the maternal womb in the name of safeguarding other rights. But how can an act that suppresses innocent and defenseless budding human life be therapeutic, civil or simply human? I ask you: it is right to do away with a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? One cannot do this, it is not right to do away with a human being, albeit small, to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hitman to solve a problem.

Where does all this come from? Where do violence and the refusal of life come from? From fear. Indeed, the acceptance of the other is a challenge to individualism. Let us think, for example, of when we discover that a nascent life is the bearer of a disability, even a serious one. The parents, in these dramatic cases, need true closeness, true solidarity, to face reality overcoming the understandable fears. Instead, they often receive hasty advice to interrupt the pregnancy, which is a figure of speech: “interrupt the pregnancy” means to “do away with” someone, 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.”