Pope: 'Saints fall' but 'God's mercy lifts them up'

Pope Francis was welcomed by thousands of people in St. Peter's Square for his weekly catechesis. The audience included people from all over the world—like these Brazilians who arrived in special clothing.

Lately, the Pope Francis has been focusing his catechesis on apostolic zeal and the saints who gave their lives to evangelization. Today he focused on St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Korea's first martyred priest. At the time of his priesthood, there were barely any priests in the country as it was outlawed by the government. 

"It was baptized lay people who transmitted the faith," Pope Francis said. "It was not the priests because there were none until later. But the first evangelization was done by the laity. Would we be capable of something like that? Let's think, it is rather interesting."

The pope explained that being Catholic in Korea at that time meant being willing to die for the Church. He then reflected on a time in St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon's life—he had walked so far in the snow without eating that he fell in exhaustion and risked freezing to death. The pope said the saint is an example of learning to get up again. 

"But do saints fall? Yes," he said. "From the earliest times, think of St. Peter. He committed great sin. But he had strength and mercy from God and he got back up."

Near the end of the General Audience, the pope remembered Our Lady of She Shan on her feast day. She is highly venerated in Shanghai. The pope prayed for the persecuted Christians in China.

"I wish to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters in China, sharing their joys and hopes," he said. "I dedicate a special thought to all those who suffer—pastors and faithful—so that in communion with the solidarity of the universal Church, they may feel consolation and encouragement."

The pope closed the audience by praying for peace in Ukraine and singing the Our Father in Latin.