VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When people become corrupt — allowing sin to take over their lives — it leaves no room for mercy, Pope Francis said.

While Jesus judges sinners with mercy, corrupt people often subscribe to an interpretation of the law that “is so rigid that it does not leave space for the Holy Spirit,” the pope said April 3 in during morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“Why does corruption come to a person?” the pope asked. “Corruption happens when sin enters; it enters your conscience and leaves no space, not even for air,” he said.


The day’s first reading from the prophet Daniel told the story of Susannah, a righteous woman falsely accused of adultery, and the day’s Gospel reading was the story of the woman caught in adultery.

Although the readings give two different examples of women accused of sin, the pope said that both feature “innocence, sin, corruption and the law” because “in both cases there were judges who were corrupt.”

Although Susannah’s innocence was proven, the woman in the Gospel was caught in the act of adultery and presented by her accusers before Jesus, the “true Master of the law.”

“Jesus says very few things. He says: ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And to the sinful woman he says: ‘I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more,'” the pope said.

“This is the fullness of the law,” he said, not the interpretation given by “the scribes and Pharisees who had corrupted their minds making many laws without leaving space for mercy. Jesus is the fullness of the law and Jesus judges with mercy.”

Pope Francis said that the Gospel reading is an invitation for Christians to take a moment before passing judgment upon others and to follow the example of Jesus’ mercy toward sinners.

“We, too, judge others in our hearts, eh? Are we corrupt? Or not yet?” he asked. “Stop. Let us stop and look to Jesus who always judges with mercy: ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go in peace and sin no more.'”