The worst kind of slavery is that of one's ego :Pope Francis

"God’s love renders us free” Pope Francis said to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square, even when in prison, even when we are weak or limited by circumstances.

Only the love given to us by Jesus can break the chains of slavery to sin, especially that of “one's own ego”.

Reflecting on the third Commandment that is dedicated to the day of rest, the Pope quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy in which the Third Word “commemorates the end of slavery” and said “it is a day in which the slave must rest like the master, to celebrate the memory of Israel’s liberation from the slavery of Egypt”.

Many forms of slavery

But, Pope Francis, explained there are in fact various “forms of slavery, both external and internal”.

He mentioned external constraints such as “oppression, lives seized by violence and other types of injustice” as well as “psychological bonds, complexes, personal limitations” as well as a series of existential realities from which it is apparently impossible to distance ourselves.

Yet, he continued, history offers us examples of men whom – like St. Maximilian Kolbe and Cardinal Van Thuan for example - although subjected to imprisonment and oppression, have managed to experience profound freedom and repose.

“God's mercy frees us. And when you encounter God's mercy, you have great inner freedom and you are able to transmit it” he said.

The slavery of the ego

The Pope warned those present in particular against “the slavery of the ego” which, he said, has the power to enslave one more than a prison does.

“Those people who spend the day checking the mirror are slaves of their egos” he said.

And describing the ego as something that can be more oppressive more than a torturer or a jail-keeper, the Pope said that kind of slavery is a sin.

Elaborating further, he pointed out that true freedom is more than choice: it is liberation from the bondage of selfishness, sin and lovelessness; from such slavery there can be no rest. 

Sins that deprive us of freedom

The Pope went on to list a number of sins that deprive man of true freedom and love. He said there is no respite for the greedy because gluttony is the hypocrisy of the stomach, which is full but makes us believe that it is empty” while “the need for possessions destroys the miser” and “the fire of anger and the worm of envy ruin relationships”.

Jesus’ redeeming love

Thus a “real slave” Pope Francis explained, is he who is incapable of repose and of loving. All these vices and sins, he said, “render us slaves to ourselves and make us unable to love because love is towards the other”.

So, “true love is true freedom: it detaches us from possession, it rebuilds relationships, it knows how to welcome and how to value one's neighbor, it transforms every effort into a joyful gift and makes us capable of communion”.

The love we receive from the Lord, Francis concluded, gives us freedom even when in prison, even when we are weak and limited”.

Pope Francis at Mass: Bishops must pray to overcome 'Great Accuser’

In his homily at Mass on Tuesday morning, Pope Francis said it seems the "Great Accuser" is attacking the bishops of the Catholic Church to create scandal.

The Pope invited the bishops to remember three things in these troubled times: their strength lies in being men of prayer; they should have the humility to remember they are chosen by God; and they need to remain close to the people.

He reflected on the day’s Gospel (Lk 6:12-19), in which Jesus spends the night in prayer before choosing the Twelve Apostles, whom the Pope called “the first bishops”.

Men of prayer

Pope Francis said bishops must first of all be men of prayer. Prayer, he said, “is a bishop’s consolation in difficult times,” since they know that “Jesus is praying for me and for all bishops.”

The Pope said this will bring consolation and strength to bishops, who are then called to pray for themselves and the people of God. This, the Holy Father said, is a bishop’s first duty.

Humility of being chosen by God

Next, Pope Francis invited bishops to be humble, because they are chosen by God.

“The bishop who loves Jesus is not trying to climb a ladder, advancing his vocation as if it were a mere task or seeking a better placement or promotion. No. A bishop feels chosen, and has the certainty of being chosen. This drives him to speak with the Lord: ‘You chose me, of little importance, a sinner.’ He is humble, because he feels chosen and feels Jesus’ gaze upon his whole being. This gives him strength.”

Remain close to the people

Lastly, Pope Francis said bishops are called to be close to the people of God, and not shut up in an ivory tower.

“The bishop cannot remain distant from the people; he cannot have attitudes that take him away from them… He doesn’t try to find refuge with the powerful or elite. No. The ‘elites’ criticize bishops, while the people has an attitude of love towards the bishop. This is almost a special unction that confirms the bishop in his vocation.”

'Great Accuser' seeks to scandalize

Finally, Pope Francis said bishops need these three attitudes to face the scandal whipped up by the "Great Accuser".

“In these times, it seems like the 'Great Accuser' has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The 'Great Accuser', as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, 'roams the earth looking for someone to accuse'. A bishop’s strength against the 'Great Accuser' is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.”

Pope Francis sends Independence Day greetings to Nicaragua

Ahead of Nicaragua’s Independence Day, Pope Francis sends his greetings, asking God to grant peace to the Nicaraguans suffering the consequences of ongoing violent protests.
Pope Francis sent a message to the people of Nicaragua on Tuesday, ahead of the country's Independence Day on September 15th.

In the message, Pope Francis sends his cordial greetings to the people of Nicaragua. He assures them of his prayers.

“May Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, grant you the gift of fraternal reconciliation and of a life shared in peace and solidarity.”

Pope Francis sent his message to President Daniel Ortega through the Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua, Archbishop Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag.

Nicaragua has been suffering a political crisis since April, when demonstrations demanding President Ortega’s resignation turned violent.

More than 300 people have died and another 2,000 have been injured in the protests.