“Faithfulness and the honor of faith, according to this heresy, have nothing to do with the behaviors of life, the institutions of the community, the symbols of the body. Nothing to do with it,” he said.
Pope Francis highlighted the commendable example of Eleazar, who “lived the coherence of his faith for a whole lifetime.”
He said: “The biblical story … tells of the episode of the Jews being forced by a king’s decree to eat meat sacrificed to idols. When it’s the turn of Eleazar, an elderly man highly respected by everyone, in his 90s … the king’s officials advised him to resort to a pretense, that is, to pretend to eat the meat without actually doing so. Hypocrisy … These people tell him, ‘Be a little bit of a hypocrite, no one will notice.’”
“It is a little thing, but Eleazar’s calm and firm response is based on an argument that strikes us. The central point is this: dishonoring the faith in old age, in order to gain a handful of days, cannot be compared with the legacy it must leave to the young, for entire generations to come,” the pope said.
Pope Francis remained seated throughout the general audience. He required assistance as he slowly hobbled up a ramp to reach his chair in St. Peter’s Square. The pope is reportedly receiving therapeutic injections for his knee injury this week.
In his greetings to pilgrims from different parts of the world, the pope encouraged people to pray the rosary every day during the month of May. He encouraged Polish pilgrims, in particular, to “entrust the fate of your homeland and peace in Europe to the Holy Virgin.”
Addressing French-speaking pilgrims, he greeted members of La Voie romaine (the Roman Way), an association supporting a group of mothers of priests walking from Paris to Rome to ask the pope to lift restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass.
The mothers left the French capital on March 6 and arrived in Rome on April 30. They were expected to meet the pope at the end of the general audience, presenting him with thousands of messages from Catholics who say they were adversely affected by the motu proprio Traditionis custodes.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.