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Capable of looking them in the eye

· At the Jubilee audience Francis explains the meaning and value of almsgiving ·

The Pope to visit Armenia from 24 to 26 June and Georgia and Azerbaijan from 30 September to 2 October

Francis will visit Armenia from 24 to 26 June and, from 30 September to 2 October, he will travel to Georgia and Azerbaijan.

A statement released by the Holy See Press Office announced that the Pope has decided to go to Armenia, accepting the invitations from His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the civil authorities and the Catholic Church, and at the same time, accepting the invitation from His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia, and the civil and religious authorities of Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Holy Father will complete an apostolic visit in the Caucasus.

The announcement was made on Saturday morning, 9 April, the day in which Francis held the fourth Jubilee audience of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy, dedicated “to discover an essential aspect of mercy: almsgiving”. In his catechesis, the Pope recalled to the faithful in St Peter's Square that “requires an attitude of inner joy” and cannot become “a burden or a tedium from which to free ourselves in haste”. Similarly almsgiving cannot be conditioned by judgment by those who give it. “How many people,” he said, “justify their not giving alms by saying: 'What kind of person is this? This one whom I should give to, perhaps will go to buy wine to get drunk'”. But, he added, “If he gets drunk, it is because he has no other path! You, what do you do in secret, that no one sees? Yet you judge that poor man who asks you for a coin for a glass of wine?”.

Jesus “asks us not to give alms in order to be lauded and admired by men for our generosity”. “It is not appearances that count”, he said, “but the capacity to stop in order to look at the face the person asking for help. We can each ask ourselves: 'Am I capable of stopping and looking at the face, looking in the eye, the person is asking me for help? Am I capable?'”. Thus “we must not identify alms with the simple coin offered in haste”, without “stopping to talk so as to understand what he or she truly needs”. At the same time, the Pope underlined “we must distinguish between the poor and the various forms of begging that do not render a good service to the truly poor”.

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Sept. 25, 2018

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