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Helping the poor is your passport to paradise, Pope tells Christians


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Good Christians should not just follow the commandments, but must also actively help the poor, Pope Francis says in a homily.

“[The poor] are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our passport to paradise. For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them,” the pope said.

Francis is celebrating the World Day of the Poor, a new Catholic festivity for which some 6,000 to 7,000 poor people, mostly from Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Poland, have been invited.

The Pontiff warned that is is “sad” when Christians “do no more than keep to the rules and follow the commandments, like employees” of the Lord, and do not actively engage in charity.

“All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. […] But to do no wrong is not enough,” he adds.

Pope Francis is spending Sunday with thousands of poor people from all over Europe, leading a special Mass in St Peter’s Basilica and later sharing lunch with them.

At the 10 a.m. (09:00 GMT) service, Francis is being assisted by 12 migrants, poor or homeless people, and one of the readings is to be delivered by a Syrian refugee.

The Vatican said after Mass, about 1,500 poor people were due to have lunch with the pope inside Vatican walls, while the others were to be given food by volunteers at several locations around Rome.

Francis, who calls himself “a street priest,” said days after his election to the papacy in 2013, that he wanted to lead “a poor church, for the poor.”

On Thursday, the day he visited a field hospital for the poor near St Peter’s, he tweeted:

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“Poverty is not an accident. It has causes that must be recognised and removed for the good of so many of our brothers and sisters.”

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