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Pope: Anyone one who repents, desires God's embrace can be saved


  • Pope Francis talks with a prelates as he leads his weekly audience Sept. 28 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)
  • Pope Francis greets pilgrims as he arrives to lead his weekly audience Sept. 28 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)
  • Pope Francis adjusts his skullcap as he poses with a group of priests during his weekly audience Sept. 28 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)
  • Pope Francis greets a group of priests as he arrives to lead his weekly audience Sept. 28 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)
  • Bell ringers perform for Pope Francis during his weekly audience Sept. 28 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)
  • A pilgrim takes a cell phone picture as Pope Francis waves at the end of his weekly audience Sept. 28 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church is not just for people who are good, who think they're good or pretend to be good, it is for everyone, especially the bad because the church is mercy, Pope Francis said.

No one is excluded from God's forgiveness, even the worst sinners, who only must draw near to Jesus with a repentant heart "and the desire to be embraced," he said Sept. 28 at his weekly general audience.

In his continuing series of talks on mercy, the pope focused on St. Luke's Gospel account of the crucifixion and its story of the "good thief." Jesus was nailed to a cross between two criminals, was jeered at by the crowds, and still he begged God to forgive them because "they know not what they do."

Not many understood how the Messiah could allow himself to be nailed to the cross and do nothing to try to save himself, the pope said. But "Jesus saved us by remaining on the cross. And all of us know that it is not easy to remain on the cross, our little everyday crosses."

But upon that great cross and with great suffering, Jesus "stayed there and there he saved us, there he showed us his great omnipotence and there he forgave us," the pope said.

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