“You can know the whole Bible, you can know all the liturgical rubrics, you can know all theology, but that knowledge does not make loving automatic,” Francis said on Wednesday, as reported by the Catholic News Service. “Love has another path.”
The Roman Catholic Church leader suggested that to ignore the suffering of another person is to ignore God, and delved into the parable of the good Samaritan, as found in the Bible.
Francis said the story makes it clear that “it is not automatic that one who frequents the house of God and has known His mercy knows how to love his neighbor.”
“To ignore human suffering — what does that mean? It means ignoring God,” he continued. “If I do not draw near to the man or woman or child or older person who is suffering, I cannot draw near to God.”
The pontiff insisted that God feels people’s suffering, and does not ignore it.
“He knows our pain. He knows how much we need his help and consolation. He draws near to us and never abandons us,” he added.
Francis has called on Christians to help others throughout his time at the Vatican, focusing strongly on the ongoing refugee crisis in recent times. Earlier in April Francis visited the Aegean island of Lesbos in Greece, which is hosting many refugees fleeing Syria, and took three Muslim families, including six children, back to Rome on his papal plane.
“Though many of their graves bear no name, to you each one is known, loved and cherished,” Francis prayed at the refugee camp. “Wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering and free us from the insensitivity born of world comfort and self-centeredness.”
Francis urged world leaders to continue working on a solution to the ongoing civil war in Syria, which has forced millions to flee as refugees.
“We have come to call the attention of the world to this grave humanitarian crisis and to plead for its resolution,” the pontiff said.
“As people of faith, we wish to join our voices to speak out on your behalf,” the pope added. “We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and indeed desperate need, and respond in a way worthy of our common humanity.”