By Vatican News
Pope Francis’ Wednesday General Audiences resumed on August 7th, after the usual summer hiatus in July.
In the six years since his election to the See of Peter, Pope Francis had held 279 General Audiences, including both the regular weekly audiences and the special Jubilee Audiences held on Saturdays during the Year of Mercy.
Together with his Angelus addresses, delivered on Sundays and Holy Days; and his homilies, both for major Feasts and at his daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the catechetical lectures delivered at the weekly General Audience represent the spiritual heart of Pope Francis’ ordinary Magisterium, or teaching office.
Since 2013, in addition to reflections on specific topics such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, Pope Francis has presented 12 cycles of catechesis. The first was a series of talks on the Creed, continuing a cycle begun by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, during the Year of Faith. Pope Francis continued with catechetical series on the Sacraments, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Family, and the theme of Mercy during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Subsequently, he has dwelt on the topics of Christian Hope, the Holy Mass, Baptism, Confirmation, the Ten Commandments, the Our Father, and, most recently, the Acts of the Apostles.
Appeals for specific situations
The General Audiences also provide an opportunity for the Pope to draw the world’s attention to specific issues, and launch appeals for various causes. In the six years of his pontificate, Pope Francis has launched more than forty appeals for peace in various places around the world. He has appealed for aid to Christians facing persecution, discrimination, and other particular difficulties on more than 20 occasions.
He has made appeals for humanitarian aid following natural disasters, epidemics, and accidents. On about a dozen different occasions, he has specifically appealed for assistance for migrants, workers in difficulty, and the poor of the world; and for efforts to respond to the ongoing environmental crisis.
These encounters, in which the Holy Father is able to meet with people from all over the world, offer Pope Francis an opportunity to carry out a simple, yet profound catechesis on the Christian faith.