"Seeing and acting with mercy: That is holiness," Pope Francis argued Monday in a new apostolic exhortation entitled "Gaudete et Exsultate," which means, "Rejoice and Be Glad." Apostolic exhortations are mid-level papal communications, not intended to define Catholic Church doctrine but carrying more weight than some other papal writings.
Francis' aim was to "re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time," which turned his attention to poverty, migration, and abortion. "Our defense of the innocent unborn," he wrote, "needs to be clear, firm, and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned."
"We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue," the pope continued. "That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian," he said. For Christians, caring for migrants is "not a notion invented by some pope, or a momentary fad."
The 103-page exhortation also addressed topics including prayer, entertainment, the devil, and social media. "When we allow ourselves to be caught up in superficial information, instant communication, and virtual reality, we can waste precious time and become indifferent to the suffering flesh of our brothers and sisters," Francis warned about digital networking.