Pope celebrates mass of 'mercy' with prisoners, refugees

Rome (AFP) –


Pope Francis made a rare Sunday outing from Vatican grounds to celebrate a mass on "divine mercy" with prisoners, refugees and health workers.

The service was held in a church just off St Peter's Square, in front of a reduced congregation of about 80 people, due to coronavirus restrictions.

Among them, there were inmates of two Roman prisons and one youth detention centre; refugees from Syria, Nigeria and Egypt; and nursing staff from a nearby hospital.

In his homily, the leader of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics stressed the importance for Christians of serving others.

"Sister, brother, do you want proof that God has touched your life? See if you can stoop to bind the wounds of others," he said.

"Let us not remain indifferent. Let us not live a one-way faith, a faith that receives but does not give... Having received mercy, let us now become merciful," Francis added.

He also recalled how early Christians had no concept of private property and shared everything, noting: "This is not communism, but pure Christianity."

The pope, who is 84 and was vaccinated for the coronavirus ahead of his trip to Iraq in early March, did not wear a face mask during the service.

The mass celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday, a Catholic Feast falling on the first Sunday after Easter, established by Pope John Paul II in 2000.