VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Mercy and personal conversion must be in the hearts of those who serve the poor and innocent victims of violence, Pope Francis said.

“Scenes of violence pass in front of our eyes every day, merciless faces, hardened and desolate hearts. We have so much need to remind ourselves of the Father, whose heart thinks of all and desires the salvation of every man and woman,” the pope told lay and religious men and women of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, also known as the Pallottine community.


Christians must draw inspiration from Jesus’ life and renew their trust in God to fulfill their mission to serve others, the pope told the group Oct. 10.

As the “first and greatest evangelizer,” Jesus reminds Christians that in every “activity of evangelization, the primacy belongs to God” and that “mercy is the strength that conquers all, that fills the heart with love and consoles with forgiveness,” he said.

“Contemplating the life of Jesus and looking at our life as pilgrims in this world with its many challenges, we feel the necessity of a profound conversion and the urgency of reviving faith in him,” the pope said. “This is the only way we can serve our neighbor in charity.”

Encouraging the members in their mission of service to those who are “spiritually and materially poor,” the pope reminded them of the “example of many of your brothers and sisters.”

While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis opened the canonization cause of three priests and two seminarians of the Pallottine community who were murdered by the Argentinian military dictatorship in 1976.

“I, too, have known them during my pastoral service in Argentina and I cherish grateful memories of them,” he said.

By following in the footsteps of St. Vincent Pallotti, he said, the Pallottine community members are called to help those they meet “rediscover the immense love of God in our lives.”

“I encourage you to continue with joy and hope on your path, committing yourselves with all your heart and all your strength so that the charism of your founder can bring forth abundant fruits especially in our time,” Pope Francis said.