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Contempt and indifference kill

· ​General Audience on the Decalogue ·

Insults, contempt and indifference towards others “can kill”, the Pope warned during the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 17 October. Continuing his catechesis on the Decalogue, the Pontiff picked up from last week’s reflection on the Fifth Commandment and the Bible passage according to Matthew (5:21-24), and compared these three attitudes of murderous hatred. We “are used to insulting, it is true. We tend to insult like exhaling”, he said. But he warned, “Jesus tells us: ‘Stop, because an insult does harm, it kills’”. And the same is true of contempt which is “a way of killing a person’s dignity”. This is why, he added, it “would be nice if this teaching of Jesus were to enter the mind and heart”of each of us.

“No human code equates such different acts, assigning the same level of justice”, the Pope pointed out, and “consistently Jesus actually exhorts us to interrupt the offering of sacrifice in the temple if we remember that we have offended a brother, in order to go and find him and reconcile with him”. Hence, “when we go to Mass, we should have this attitude of reconciliation with the people with whom we have had differences”. However, on the contrary as we wait for the priest, to say Mass, “we gossip a little and speak ill of others”. But the Pontiff stressed, “we cannot do this. Let us think about the gravity of an insult, of contempt, of hatred: Jesus equates this with killing”. Indeed, he continued, “an inopportune phrase is enough to offend the innocence of a child. A cold gesture can suffice to wound a woman. To break a young person’s heart, it suffices to rebuff his confidence. To annihilate man, it suffices to ignore him. Indifference kills. It is like telling the other person:’you are dead to me’”. The Pope concluded by saying, “not loving is the first step to killing; and not killing is the first step to loving”.

General Audience




St. Peter’s Square

April 22, 2019