"A culture that is leaving by the roadside the faces of the elderly, children, ethnic minorities seen as a threat," he said. "A culture that little by little promotes the comfort of a few and increases the suffering of many others. A culture that is incapable of accompanying the young in their dreams but sedates them with promises of ethereal happiness and hides the living memory of their elders. A culture that has squandered the wisdom of the indigenous peoples and has shown itself incapable of caring for the richness of their lands."
"We live in a society that is bleeding, and the price of its wounds normally ends up being paid by the most vulnerable," he added. "But it is precisely to this society, to this culture, that the Lord sends us. He sends us with one program alone: to treat one another with mercy. To become neighbors to those thousands of defenseless people who walk in our beloved American land by proposing a different way of treating them."
The Pope's remarks drew on St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy.
"Paul minces no words: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom Paul considers himself the worst," the Pope explained. "He is clearly aware of who he is, he does not conceal his past or even his present. But he describes himself in this way neither to excuse or justify himself, much less to boast of his condition."
"For all our sins, our limitations, our failings, for all the many times we have fallen, Jesus has looked upon us and drawn near to us. He has given us his hand and showed us mercy," he continued. "All of us can think back and remember the many times the Lord looked upon us, drew near and showed us mercy. All those times that the Lord kept trusting, kept betting on us. "
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The Pope encouraged his audience to concentrate on remembering their sin, not their alleged merits, and to grow in "a humble and guilt-free awareness of all those times we turned away from God – we, not someone else, not the person next to us, much less that of our people – and to be once more amazed by God's mercy."
Mercy is not simply a beautiful word. It is a concrete act of drawing close to others and making them feel that "the last word has not yet been spoken" in their lives. These people must be treated in such a way "that those who feel crushed by the burden of their sins can feel relieved at being given another chance."
"Paul's God starts a movement from heart to hands, the movement of one who is unafraid to draw near, to touch, to caress, without being scandalized, without condemning, without dismissing anyone. A way of acting that becomes incarnate in people's lives," the Pope added.