The Wisdom of Pope Francis

The Wisdom of Pope Francis

by David Birch

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A collection of wise words from one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders.
“A bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”
“Money has to serve, not to rule.”
“True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons.”
“The person who is most high among us must be at the service of the others.”
When Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the 266th pope, he took the name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, a figure renowned for his humility, wisdom, and concern for the poor. Since then, Pope Francis has followed in his namesake’s footsteps, rejecting worldly wealth and dedicating himself to helping the poor and disadvantaged. He has touched the world with his gentle wisdom, preaching a message of openness, love, and mercy.
Collected here are some of the words that have made Pope Francis so beloved that he was even named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 2013. Gathered from his speeches, homilies, sermons, and more, the quotations in this book will inspire any reader to become a more thoughtful, humble, and just person.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632209436
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 03/10/2015
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 942,701
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

David Birch was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and is a graduate of Washington University. He works as a freelance writer and editor. He currently resides in San Francisco, California.

Read an Excerpt



To be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.

— Twitter @Pontifex, November 21, 2013

We all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.

— Homily, May 22, 2013

Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.

La Repubblica interview, October 1, 2013

* * *

What do I do with my life? Do I create unity around me? Or do I cause division by gossip, criticism, or envy?

The Church of Mercy, April 2014

We have at our disposal so much information and so many statistics on poverty and human tribulations. ... Let us imitate Jesus: He goes to the streets, not planning for the poor or the sick or disabled people that he crosses along the way; but with the first one he encounters, he stops, becoming a presence of care, a sign of the closeness of God who is goodness, providence, and love.

— Address to the National Federation of Misericordie of Italy, June 14, 2014

We need to pass through the clouds of indifference without losing our way; we need to descend into the darkest night without being overcome and disorientated; we need to listen to the dreams, without being seduced; we need to share their disappointments, without becoming despondent; to sympathize with those whose lives are falling apart, without losing our own strength and identity.

— Meeting with the Bishops of Brazil, July 28, 2013

You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.

American interview, September 30, 2013

I am thinking of what St. Ignatius told us. ... He pointed out two criteria on love. The first: love is expressed more clearly in actions than in words. The second: there is greater love in giving than in receiving.

— From "The Difficult Science of Love" meditation as quoted by L'Osservatore Romano, June 12, 2013

We cannot be Christians part-time. If Christ is at the center of our lives, he is present in all that we do.

— Twitter @Pontifex, August 19, 2013

We have observed that, in society and the world in which we live, selfishness has increased more than love for others, and that men of good will must work, each with his own strengths and expertise, to ensure that love for others increases until it is equal and possibly exceeds love for oneself.

La Repubblica interview, October 1, 2013

This struggle [between God and the devil] is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches ... if we do not struggle, we will be defeated.

— Feast of the Archangels, September 29, 2014

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.

La Repubblica interview, October 1, 2013

* * *

Christ's Cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.

— Palm Sunday Homily, March 24, 2013

God did not wait for us to go to Him, but He moved towards us, without calculation, without measures. This is how God is: He is always the first, He moves towards us.

— First General Audience address, March 27, 2013

In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you, like the disciples in today's Gospel, to push away the stranger, the needy, the poor and the brokenhearted. It is these people especially who repeat the cry of the woman of the Gospel: "Lord, help me!" ... We are to be like Christ, who responds to every plea for his help with love, mercy, and compassion.

— Homily at Closing Mass of Sixth Annual Asian Youth Day, August 17, 2014

True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life's journey.

— Homily from Holy Mass for Family Day, October 27, 2013

When Christians forget about hope and tenderness they become a cold Church, that loses sense of direction and is held back by ideologies and worldly attitudes whereas God's simplicity tells you: Go forward, I am a Father who caresses you.

— Christmas interview with La Stampa, December 13, 2013

* * *

Help one another. That is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart.

— Homily at Casal del Marmo juvenile detention facility in Rome, March 28, 2013

Care for life! What a beautiful thing one sees — which I know! — that a grandfather, a grandmother, who perhaps can no longer speak, who is paralyzed, and the grandson or the son comes and takes their hand, and in silence cherishes them, nothing more. That is caring for life.

— Homily during mass honoring the Holy Protector of Pregnant Women, August 31, 2005

Rend your hearts to be able to love with the love with which we are beloved, to console with the consolation with which we are consoled and to share what we have received.

— Lenten Letter of 2013, March 14, 2013



A bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.

— Angelus, March 17, 2013

I think we too are the people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think — and I say it with humility — that this is the Lord's most powerful message: mercy.

— Homily, March 17, 2013

The Lord always forgives us and walks at our side. We have to let him do that.

— Twitter @Pontifex, August 30, 2014

* * *

Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love.

The Joy of the Gospel

Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God's providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.

— Address to a UN delegation, May 9, 2014

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents to us the episode of the adulterous woman, whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. Jesus' attitude is striking: we do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversion.

— Angelus, March 17, 2013

Jesus wants to love you for what you are, even in your frailty and weakness, so that moved by his love, you may be renewed.

— "The Light of Faith" letter, June 29, 2013

* * *

God never tires of forgiving us, but we sometimes tire of asking Him to forgive us.

— First Angelus Address, March 17, 2013

The presence of God among men did not take place in a perfect, idyllic world but rather in this real world. ... He chose to live in our history as it is, with all the weight of its limitations and of its tragedies. In doing so, he has demonstrated in an unequalled manner his merciful and truly loving disposition toward the human creature.

— Address at St. Peter's Square, December 18, 2013

Today I would also like to suggest a medicine to you. But someone might think: "The Pope is a pharmacist now?" ... It is a rosary with which you can also pray the "Mercy chaplet," a spiritual help for our soul and to spread love, forgiveness, and fraternity everywhere. Do not forget to take it because it is good for you, okay? It is good for your heart, your soul, and your whole life!

— Address at St. Peter's Square, November 18, 2013

This is all the Gospel, here; this is Christianity! But this is not sentimentalism or bland "do-goodism"; on the contrary, mercy is the true force that can save man and the world from the "cancer" of sin, from moral and spiritual malaise. Only love can fill the gaps, the negative abysses that evil opens up in our hearts and in history. Only love can do this, and this is the joy of God.

— Angelus Address, September 16, 2013

We must try to facilitate people's faith, rather than control it. Last year in Argentina I condemned the attitude of priests who did not baptize the children of unmarried mothers. This [mindset of the priests] is a sick mentality.

— Christmas interview with La Stampa, December 13, 2013

* * *

If you go to him with your whole life, even with the many sins, instead of reproaching you, he will rejoice: this is our Father.

— Homily for the Celebration of Penance, March 28, 2014

The joy of God is the joy of forgiveness. It is the joy of the shepherd who finds his lost sheep; the joy of the woman who finds her lost coin; the joy of the father who welcomes home his lost son.

— Angelus Address, September 16, 2013

In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength.

— Homily for Marian Day, October 23, 2013

I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord's mercy which spurs us on to do our best. A small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties.

The Joy of the Gospel

And the desert within; when we have no love for God or neighbor, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God's mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones.

— Easter Sunday Homily, March 31, 2013

Let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation, and make justice and peace flourish.

— Easter Sunday Homily, March 31, 2013

* * *

The Church is not the master of the power of the keys, it is not the master, but rather a servant of the ministry of mercy and rejoices every time that it can offer this divine gift.

— Address at St. Peter's Square, November 20, 2013

God does not destroy the serpents, but rather offers an "antidote": by means of the bronze serpent fashioned by Moses, God transmits his healing strength, namely his mercy, which is more potent than the Tempter's poison.

— From the Holy Mass with the Rite of Marriage, September 14, 2014

The image of an open door has always been the symbol of light, friendship, joy, freedom, confidence. How we need to recover these things! The closed door harms us, paralyzes us, separates us.

— Letter on the Year of Faith, October 1, 2012

It is not easy to entrust oneself to God's mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must!

— Homily, March 17, 2013

* * *

Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord.

— Speech at the International Bookfair in Buenos Aires, April 27, 2001

I think we too are the people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy.

— Homily, March 17, 2013



If we want to be healed, we must choose the road of humility.

— Address to representatives of the churches and Ecclesial Communities, March 20, 2013

We must all think about whether we can become a little poorer. This is something we must all do. How I can become a little poorer to be more like Jesus, who was the poor Teacher.

— To the students of the Jesuit Schools of Italy and Albania, June 7, 2013

Without ignoring, naturally, the specific scientific and professional requirements of every context, I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it.

— Message to the World Economic Forum, January 17, 2014

You can't govern without loving the people and without humility! And every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: "Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?" If you don't ask those questions, your governance will not be good.

— Mass in St. Martha's House, September 16, 2013

To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person and face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely.

— Address at a homeless shelter, May 21, 2013

* * *

Oh, how I would like a Church that is poor and for the poor.

— Comments to journalists, March 16, 2013

If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.

— Christmas Eve Mass, December 24, 2013

Often, so often, we find among our faithful, simple old women who perhaps didn't even finish elementary school, but who can speak to us of things better than any theologian, because they have the Spirit of Christ.

— Homily in St. Martha's House, September 2, 2014

The only way to overcome the temptation of corruption, is service. Corruption is pride, arrogance — and service humiliates you. It is humble charity to help others.

— Mass in Santa Marta, June 17, 2014

* * *

Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

— Mass for the inauguration of the Pontificate, March 19, 2013

With great wisdom Benedict XVI reminded the Church many times that for man, authority is often synonymous with possession, dominion, success. For God authority is always synonymous with service, humility, love.

— Address to the International Union of Superiors General, May 8, 2013

That is the purpose of our mission: to identify the material and immaterial needs of the people and try to meet them as we can. ... Love for one's neighbor, that leavening that serves the common good.

La Repubblica interview, October 1 2013

If there is no humility, love remains blocked, it cannot go forward.

— Homily from Mass of the Annunciation, April 8, 2014

* * *

Christian humility is not within the virtue of saying: "I am not important" and hiding our pride. No, Christian humility is telling the truth: "I am a sinner."

— Homily at Casa Santa Maria, March 24, 2014

[Saint] Francis abandoned riches and comfort in order to become a poor man among the poor. He understood that true joy and riches do not come from the idols of this world — material things and the possession of them — but are to be found only in following Christ and serving others.

— World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, July 24, 2014

An example I often use to illustrate the reality of vanity is this: look at the peacock; it's beautiful if you look at it from the front. But if you look at it from behind, you discover the truth. ... Whoever gives in to such self-absorbed vanity has huge misery hiding inside them.

Vatican Insider interview, February 24, 2012

We incarnate the duty of hearing the cry of the poor when we are deeply moved by the suffering of others.

The Joy of the Gospel

* * *

Let us ask for the grace of having the wisdom to put ourselves on the margins, for the grace of humility so that we may receive the Lord's Salvation.

— Homily at Casa Santa Maria, March 24, 2014

A person who is not humble cannot hear along with the Church. He hears only what she likes, what he likes.

— Homily, January 30, 2014

* * *

The person who is most high among us must be at the service of the others.

— Mass at Casal del Marmo prison for minors, March 29, 2013

Always step outside yourself! And with the love and tenderness of God, with respect and patience, knowing that we put our hands, our feet, our hearts, but then it is God who guides them and makes all our actions fruitful.

— First General Audience address, March 27, 2013

Jesus sends his followers out with no "purse, no bag, no sandals." The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ.

— Homily at Mass with Seminarians and Novices, July 7, 2013


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Table of Contents

Poverty & Inequality,
Faith & Belief,
The Church,

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