Pope Francis marked his third anniversary as pope by reinforcing his message of mercy-over-morals – one that he has been emphasizing in particular during his Holy Year of Mercy.
During his St. Peter’s Square blessing on Sunday, Francis gave away 40,000 copies of the Gospel of Luke and told the crowd that the Biblical story of the adulterous women whom Jesus fused to condemn.
Francis said: "This woman represents all of us, adulterers before God, traitors of his trust. And her experience represents the will of God for all of us: Not our condemnation, but our salvation through Jesus."
Nuns who work in the Vatican's free pediatric clinic and Rome grandparents handed out the booklets to pilgrims.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry extended his official congratulations to Francis, thanking him for his role in renewing the country’s diplomatic ties with Cuba as well has his efforts to facilitate dialogue between the Colombian government and FARC rebels.
“The Holy Father was instrumental in encouraging talks between our two countries, and the United States will continue to seek his support as we proceed with our renewed bilateral relationship with Cuba,” Kerry said in a statement, according to Vatican Radio.
He added: “I believe that Americans -- Catholics and non-Catholics alike -- share His Holiness’ conviction that we must do all we can to protect the environmental health of our planet, to uphold the common good, to promote religious freedom, to care for refugees and others who are disadvantaged, and to strive for justice and peace. Many around the world are inspired by his dedication to helping the marginalized and disadvantaged. We share His Holiness’ conviction that all people have dignity and worth and that we must strive to help everyone reach his or her full potential.”
In addition to celebrating Francis’ third anniversary this week, it was announced this week that he will become the third pope to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as part of his visit to Poland in July.
He will visit the former Nazi death camp in southern Poland on July 29, on the third day of his visit to the country, AFP reported (via Yahoo!)
Two of the pope's predecessors also visited the camp, John Paul II -- himself Polish -- in 1979 and Benedict XVI in 2006.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.