‘It’s not every day that you have a new work of mercy in the Catholic Church!’ That was how the new director of the Vatican press office, American Greg Burke introduced the briefing, focused on the papal message entitled ‘Show Mercy to our Common Home’.
Since biblical times, Christians have been called to carry out 6 acts of mercy, listed in St Matthew’s Gospel – giving food and drink to the hungry and thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and the prisoners – with a 7th one, burying the dead, added in medieval times.
Now the new papal message adds an eighth one to that list and, as Terence Ward, author of ‘The Guardian of Mercy’ pointed out, it could be seen as the most significant of them all…
“Caring for our Common Home. Groundbreaking and visionary, ecumenical and ecological. One could argue that this is the highest work of mercy because it includes all the others, a modern work of mercy for our modern epoch.”
As Bishop Brian Farrell explained, it’s an issue around which there is broad ecumenical agreement throughout the Christian world, with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and other Orthodox leaders pioneering many groundbreaking initiatives to raise awareness about critical ecological concerns.
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