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World Youth Day 2016: Celebrating God’s Mercy in Krakow


“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

With the fifth beatitude from Matthew’s Gospel as its theme, World Youth Day 2016 focuses on celebrating God’s mercy in alignment with the Holy Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. Catholics from around the world are gathering in Kraków, Poland to experience the local culture and global Church on a pilgrimage of faith. Kraków is the ideal location as the site of revelations of God’s mercy and forgiveness including divine appearances to Saint Faustina, the martyrdom of Saint Maximilian Kolbe in Auschwitz, and Saint John Paul II’s legacy.

In his homily announcing the Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’s compassion for sinners exemplified by the sinful woman in Luke’s Gospel who washes His feet with her hair and is forgiven. Jesus offers His mercy for the sincerity of her love and faith. As Pope Francis said, “The hero of this encounter is certainly love, a mercy which goes beyond justice.” A spirit of mercy comes from nondiscriminatory love—deeper than a desire for justice—and leads to forgiveness.

Pope Francis explained, “We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart in order to see how much generosity everyone is capable of. No one can be excluded from the mercy of God.” His hope is that during this year we may find “the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God’s mercy.”

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