pope francis
Pope Francis talks during a special audience to mark the 50th anniversary of Synod of Bishops in Paul VI hall at the Vatican October 17, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis on Sunday declared that “Today is a time of mercy.” In a memorable meeting of bishops the Holy Father called for a more welcoming church for Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried, encouraging a merciful, caring and less judgmental church.

“A faith that does not know how to root itself in the life of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts,” Pope Francis said, “when humanity’s cry becomes stronger still, there is no other response than to make Jesus’ words our own and, above all, imitate his heart. Moments of suffering and conflict are, for God, occasions of mercy,” concluding, “today is a time of mercy!”

"None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did," Francis said at the closing of synod on family, "if Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf. His problem was not their problem. This can be a danger for us. In the face of constant problems, it is better to move on, instead of letting ourselves be bothered. In this way, just like the disciples, we are with Jesus but we do not think like him. We can speak about him, work for him, but still live far from his heart which is focused on those who are wounded. This is the temptation of the spirituality of mirage."

The Mass concluded three weeks of intense discussion and debate on pastoral responses to the challenges facing families in the modern world.

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