February 15, 2012. (Romereports.com)
During the general audience, Benedict XVI reflected on the importance of forgiveness.
The pope spoke about the last words of Jesus on the Cross, using it as an example of forgiveness toward persecution.
He noted it was also as a sign of hope and confidence toward death, even for those with no relationship with God, such as the thieves that were crucified alongside Jesus.
“In his words to the Good Thief: 'Today you will be with me in Paradise', he offers sure hope to all those who repent and put their trust in him.'”
The Pope also spoke of the intercession of Jesus for his executioners and that ignorance can also lessen the guilt and can open a door to conversion. Benedict said that we need to pray even for those who persecute us.
“His final cry: 'Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit,' expresses Jesus’ trust-filled surrender to God’s will, born of that unique relationship to the Father which had shaped his own life of prayer.”
Among the 6,000 pilgrims in the Vatican's Paul VI Audience Hall were members of the Spanish soccer team Atletico Madrid. They attended the audience along with pilgrims from the Diocese of Chicago accompanied by Cardinal Francis George.