Pope prays for Persecuted Christians
It wasn't your typical Vatican gathering. It started off with Andrea Bocelli singing in St. Peter's with his powerful voice, echoing throughout the Square.
Listening in on the music were thousands of pilgrims who are part of the Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Then, came the guest of honor.... Pope Francis made his way along the square in the popemobile, blessing the crowds along the way.
To start things off, the Pope prayed for persecuted Christians and for Christian unity.
"Those who hate Jesus Christ and murder Christians...before killing them, they don't ask: Are you Lutheran? Orthodox? Evangelical? Baptist? Methodist? No. They say, you are Christian and then they slash your throat. They don't differentiate. They know that Christians have a common root that brings people to life and His name is Jesus Christ. It's the Holy Spirit that brings life.â?
There were two interventions, where pilgrims spoke about the role their Catholic faith has played in their lives. First from this 17 year old teenager who was raised by his grandparents because of his mother's addiction problems.
Then, came this elderly man who worked as a judge. He talked about the complimentary roles of justice and mercy.
"Jesus has always been the source of strength in my life. It's true. The grace of the Holy Spirit has helped me so much, especially in not believing I had control over the lives of others.â?
With power, said the Pope, a long list of temptations quickly follow, including vanity. The Pope reminded the crowd that faith and devotion should always come first.
"The devil leads one to temptation. The temptation to be the one who is in control. The one who is at the center of it all.â?
Time and time again, the Pope highlighted the need for Christian unity, even within all its diversity. It's not about uniformity, he stressed, but about recognizing that Jesus is at the center of the Christian faith.