Pope Francis in Fatima. May 16, 2017

Pope Francis in Fatima: God is not a ruthless judge restrained by Mary's arm

Pope Francis walked the Sanctuary's esplanade  to the "Capelinha", occasionally stopping to greet the young pilgrims or to collect their letters.

However, the festive atmosphere was instantly transformed as soon as the Pope sat in silence to pray before the image of Our Lady. The esplanade went quiet to accompany him in prayer, and the result was this powerful image: thousands of people in the midst of recollection, praying in candlelight in the late hours of the night.

The Holy Father then addressed a few words to the pilgrims, and offered a thought provoking catechesis on the role of the Virgin.

He asked the crowd which Mary they invoke in their prayers: A spiritual life teacher, or a kind of saint who offers low-cost favors at a low price?

"What Mary? A teacher of the spiritual life or a 'plaster statue' from whom we beg favors at little cost?”

Pope Francis said that neither does justice to God or the Virgin, nor does the image of Mary that stops the just arm of God ready to punish.

"Great injustice is done to God’s grace whenever we say that sins are punished by his judgment, without first saying – as the Gospel clearly does – that they are forgiven by his mercy!”

Then the pope sat before the image of the Virgin, and recited the prayer that is most notably known in Fatima: the Rosary. 

At the end, Pope Francis had an unusual moment. He did not go up to the popemobile to say good-bye to the pilgrims, but instead sat down in front of him in the passenger seat, and left discreetly to let the pilgrims participate in the Mass that was to be celebrated in the Shrine.

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