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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Mercy Fridays give pope a year of stories, tears, hugs

Tears, prayers, caresses – but most of all, listening – were the hallmarks of Pope Francis’ ‘Mercy Friday’ visits during the Year of Mercy.

As the jubilee began last December, Pope Francis said he would ditch the media one Friday afternoon each month and personally try to give life to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Throughout the year, he used his weekly general audiences and monthly Saturday jubilee audiences to teach about the reality of God’s mercy and the obligation of sharing mercy with others.

But the Mercy Friday visits – even the two that were not held on a Friday – were about presence. While top personnel at the places he visited had some advance notice, in most cases the guests, residents or patients did not. The Mercy Fridays gave them a chance to tell the pope their stories and, usually, to share a late afternoon snack with him.

Picture: Pope Francis talks with people during a visit to Rome’s SOS Children’s Village on Friday 14th October. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano).