Angelus: Violence never serves humanity.

“Violence never serves humanity – it only dehumanises.” This was the Pope’s message at Sunday’s Angelus address, as he commented upon the Gospel passage of the Purification of the Temple in front of several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope commented on today’s reading from the Gospel of St. John which recounts how Jesus drove animal sellers and money changers from the Temple, arousing great wonder among His disciples and the people. “How must we interpret this gesture?” the Pope asked. “First of all we must note that it did not cause any reaction from the guardians of public order, because it was seen as a typically prophetical act. Prophets, in fact, in the name of God often denounced abuses, sometimes with symbolic gestures. If anything, the problem was their authority. That is why the Jews asked Jesus ‘what sign can you show us for doing this?’; in other words, show us that you are truly acting in God’s name.

“The cleansing of the Temple has also been interpreted as a political-revolutionary gesture”, the Holy Father added, “with Jesus being seen as part of the Zealots movement. The Zealots were, indeed, ‘zealous’ for the law of God and ready to use violence to ensure it was respected. In Jesus’ time they were awaiting a Messiah who would free Israel from Roman rule. But Jesus disappointed that hope, causing some disciples to abandon Him, while Judas Iscariot even betrayed Him. The truth is that it is impossible to interpret Jesus as violent. Violence is contrary to the Kingdom of God. It is an instrument of the Antichrist. Violence never serves man, but dehumanises him”.

“The words Jesus used while accomplishing His gesture – ‘Take these things our of here!Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ – reminded His disciples of the words of the Psalm: ‘It is zeal for your house that has consumed me’. The Psalm is a cry for help in a situation of extreme danger caused by the hatred of enemies, which is what Jesus would experience in His passion. Zeal for the Father and His house would take Him to the cross. His is the zeal of the love which pays in person, not that which seeks to serve God through violence. Indeed, the ‘sign’ Jesus would give as proof of His authority would be His death and resurrection. ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up’, which St. John glosses with the words: ‘he was speaking of the temple of his body’. At Easter Jesus inaugurated a new cult: the cult of love, and a new temple: Himself, the risen Christ, through Whom all believers can adore God the Father ‘in spirit and truth'”.

“The Holy Spirit began to build this temple in the Virgin’s womb”, Benedict XVI concluded. “Through her intercession let us pray that each Christian may become a living stone in this spiritual building”.

Following the Marian prayer the Pope launched an appeal for the people of Madagascar who have been suffering the devastating effects of tropical storms, the most recent of which left at least seventy dead and many missing, as well as causing material damage affecting 70,000 people.

“My thoughts go”, he said, “to the dear people of Madagascar who have recently been struck by violent natural calamities that caused serious damage to people, infrastructures and crops. While giving assurances of my prayers for the victims and for their sorely tried families, I encourage the international community to send aid”.


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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26 Responses to Angelus: Violence never serves humanity.

  1. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    The first two paragraphs I can certainly relate to; the last two – I can’t see what they have to do with violence.
    It would be pleasing if most of the governments of the world, especially the most militarily powerful, took heed of this address.



  2. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    I am sure that the Angelus did not quite say what the first paragraphs of this article seems to say.

    There is a whole doctrine under which the Church has function in which violence is justified. The two patron Saints of France would attest to that.

    People now a days seem to be under the impression that Jesus was some sort of ghandi type figure. Just because our Lord had long hair it did not make him a hippie.


  3. Jerry says:

    Giovanni, Pope Benedict XVI is not the kind of man to mistake Jesus for a “Ghandi type figure”. As you must know he has strongly rejected such reductions. But in that Christ reveals the face of God, it is a God who is inherently non-violent. — Saying that doesn’t repudiate the ever evolving just war tradition within the Church.


  4. Giovanni A. Cattaneo says:

    I agree with you Jerry that is why I wrote what I wrote and it bothers me that the Holy Father is being characterized in this manner. It gives the wrong impression and it makes us look like kooks when we do try to defend our true doctrine.


  5. toadspittle says:

    “How must we interpret this gesture?” (Jesus lashing about and bouncing out moneylenders) the Pope asked. “First of all we must note that it did not cause any reaction from the guardians of public order, because it was seen as a typically prophetical act. “
    Seems to Toad that whether or not Christ’s “gesture” caused a reaction or not, is immaterial.
    It was a violent act. The dear old Pope then goes on to try to flannel and square it with Christ being non-violent, but does not succeed.
    Giovanni, for one was clearly not convinced, citing Joan of Arc.
    Indeed, what’s the point of being a French Catholic, if you can’t bash the English Catholics up?


  6. Jerry says:

    it did not cause any reaction from the guardians of public order, because it was seen as a typically prophetical act. Prophets, in fact, in the name of God often denounced abuses, sometimes with symbolic gestures

    It was a violent act. The dear old Pope then goes on to try to flannel and square it with Christ being non-violent, but does not succeed.

    Actually Toad, I think the Pope did succeed. The action in the temple certainly was a symbolic act, the scale of commercial activity etc was on a large scale, and Jesus action can’t be reasonably interpreted as an (ineffective) attempt to put an end to it. It was a symbolic act of a kind familiar from OT prophets, it was meaningfully non-violent in that it was a symbolic repudiation, not and as opposed to violently leading a group of disciples to shut-things down.


  7. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    We are told that the French Catholics like to “bash” the English Catholics. Au contraire Monsieur Le Crapeau, it’s the other way round. Mind you, these Froggie/Rosbeef spats contribute greatly to the gaiety of other nations…

    We are also told that chucking the moneylenders out of the temple was actually ineffective practically (true because this dealt with a symptom and not the cause) tho’ it was effective symbolically which is true. But it was also violent, paving the way for similar direct actions. “Occupy Wall St” was a symbolic peaceful contemporary version of this, tho’ equally ineffective, needing political action to succeed.


  8. Jerry says:

    “Occupy Wall St” was a symbolic peaceful contemporary version of this

    Ah yes, a tiny group of people chanting “we are the 99%”. Apparently not. Anyway, it is in no way a contemporary version of the C of the T, it is an attempt to reform a political order through political action, quite unrelated.


  9. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Yes Jerry, a tiny group, as Christians once were. It was a spontaneous political movement (like the Chartists in Britain) and not a political party, which ensured difficulties and a predictable conclusion.

    But the 2000 year old principle was sound – objection to the money lenders corrupting lives. No change there.


  10. kathleen says:

    I remember I used to worry about this Gospel passage some time ago. To me it seemed to contradict everything else about the Jesus Christ we know, Who “taught with authority“, was firm, wise, in command of every situation and endlessly patient with his often slow-witted Apostles.
    But then I began to see it in another light. When you love someone or something very much, would you just stand by and let them be attacked, beaten, even killed…. without going to their defense? Impossible! To do so would be cowardly and wrong. That does not mean you would harm the perpetrators, but you would (or should) defend the integrity of the one being attacked.
    That was what Our Lord was doing by his gesture – defending His Father’s House.


  11. kathleen says:

    We are told that the French Catholics like to “bash” the English Catholics. Au contraire Monsieur Le Crapeau, it’s the other way round.”

    Well if it was a case of just the French and English “bashing” each other – meaning teasing and poking fun – I would agree. But by using the word “Catholic”, I disagree.
    Obviously Toad and Mr. Whippy have never walked on the Chartres pilgrimage at Pentecost; we are all on the same side there ;-).


  12. toadspittle says:


    “That does not mean you would harm the perpetrators,” Well, Kathleen, let’s take the Nazis as an example.
    If we hadn’t “harmed” them, they wouldn’t have stopped World War 2 until they had won, would they?


  13. toadspittle says:

    As to whether one is ever on the same side as a French pilgrim, opinions differ. When Toad greets passing pilgrims, as he does daily – with “Buenos dias!” everyone else answers the in the same fashion.
    Except the French. They say, “Bonjour!”


  14. kathleen says:

    Don’t worry Toad; I have no qualms about the rights of “just” wars. I was thinking more on a personal or individual level in my above comment.


  15. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Thanks Kathleen
    I have not been on that pilgrimage but I am familiar with pilgrimage. I am familiar with Chartres, over many years, and also with Vezelay.

    Tho’ it is hearsay, that particular Chartres pilgrimage has a certain reputation among many French people, who find those pilgrims to be a little on the zealous side. It is more a procession than a pilgrimage anyway, and does not appeal.

    My original point was to turn away from the Frog bashing (or Dagoes, or Krauts or Paddys) which I find distasteful on the English side. I have not heard the French respond in kind, tho’ someone may correct me…my correction, I once heard a Frenchman refer to ‘perfidious Albion’.

    You however are Irish I believe, who suffered for a long time from derision, but not now. At the height of this anti Irish sentiment in England, tho’ not all over the UK, I remembered that it was the Irish who saved English Literature from oblivion between the 19th/20th centuries. Naturally I reminded some of this. I was of course much loved as a result.


  16. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Yes Kathleen the word “Catholic” means “Universal” as I remember chanting at school.


  17. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    On your 17.19 K, WWII was a good (?) example of a just conflict/defence – inevitable actually. Not many good examples around tho’.

    Sorry about the choppy responses.


  18. JabbaPapa says:

    There is a whole doctrine under which the Church has function in which violence is justified.

    errrrrmmmmm … NOPE !!!

    There are some doctrines describing when violence may be casuistically *forgivable* — but this is utterly different to the notion that it might be *justified*, given that this would be directly contrary to the Christian teachings.


  19. The Raven says:


    The Occupy lot are the same bunch of over-privileged numpties who have been protesting about anything and everything else for the last twenty years.

    The basic reason that they have utterly and irredeemably failed is that they were more focussed on having a really super time themselves. It’s the same problem that affected the Yes2AV campaign in the UK:

    It was a campaign for Guardinistas by Guardianistas.

    I keep hearing eejits on the Bolshevik Broadcasting Conspiracy telling me what wonderful things the Occupy campaign achieved, which is utter rot:

    • Everyone was p*****d at the bankers long before Swampy et al pitched their tents (remember the attacks on Fred Godwin?);

    • Everyone was aware that the banking sector had failed (pretty much since 2008 and the start of the crisis), if the protesters thought they were highlighting this, then they must have been sharing a cave with Osama for the last three years;

    • Everyone already thinks that everyone else should pay more tax (vide Ken Livingstone, who seems to have gone quiet on this issue since it emerged that he’d avoided paying income tax on £750k of earnings).

    Occupy was neither new, in touch with the times, reflective of the “99%” (after all, many of the protesters were firmly in the 1% themselves, like their biggest cheerleader, the millionairess Polly Toynbee), nor doing anything particularly intelligent.


  20. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    There’s something in what you say Jabba, but the general tone is set by your “Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation” comment, and makes much of what you say, suspect. As is your range of targets including the Grauniad. These are a red under the bed too far. But well done to sneak in “Red Ken”.

    If you had been present when Christ lobbed out the temple moneylenders, I’m curious about what you might have said.

    Oh dear!


  21. JabbaPapa says:

    “Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation” … “the Grauniad” … “Red Ken”

    I cannot remember saying anything at all about these !!


  22. The Raven says:


    Do I look like JP? I made the rude comment about the BBC, as you do proffer a prominent leg to pull.

    I’m all in favour of chucking the money-changers out of the temple, but I don’t need Occupy to attempt to insert themselves into the picture; I don’t need a bunch of over-privileged attention seekers and leftist entryists to point out the ineptitude and stupidity of the finance sector.

    The point about the “Guardianistas” isn’t mine: if you’d followed the link you would have found an advocate of Yes2AV explaining to like minded people why they failed.


  23. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Jabba you are absolutely right – it sounded so like you that I was fooled. My apologies. I cite being tired and emotional in my favour too.

    Raven – “do I look like Jabba”? you ask. Well…….

    Re:my prominent leg to pull – well why not? Go for it I say, let the fun break out! For example “lefty entryists”… I think dear Raven you have been a fly fisherman in your day.
    I don’t always read links I’m afraid – I prefer to read what the contributor has said. And some links are so long that one tends to nod off, tired head sinking onto the wine glass.

    In all, it’s good to see the two of you showing you are on the ball, are not yet bewildered and are not to be mistaken one for the other. That is very important.


  24. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Totally off topic but IMPORTANT.

    As the nesting season gets under way, any of you who have in the garden a water butt or the like, would you please consider placing in the water a piece of wood, for young birds which fall in to have something to stop them drowning?

    Last year I found two young birds drowned like this, and belatedly put the bits of wood in.

    What’s in it for you, sez he who is no altruist?
    – You will store up lots of merit with St. Francis of Asissi who will KNOW of your good act.


  25. kathleen says:

    Mr. Whippy,
    Re: your comment at 18:14 yesterday……
    It’s true that ‘Chartres’ is also a form of ‘procession’, but why does that not appeal to you? I can assure you it has all the elements of a ‘pilgrimage’ too. Come and see for yourself :-).

    I am only half Irish (on my father’s side), and yet as I was born and brought up in UK, I don’t have an Irish accent. I have a very soft spot for the Emerald Isle, but whereas I used to love the evident catholicity of Ireland in every aspect of life there, I have become increasingly disappointed in its slow decline and in the growing secularism that has been taking over.

    Can’t say I have ever personally suffered any ‘derision’ either…. not really. Yet it is a sad fact that emigrants (from any country or creed) sometimes do encounter this strong reaction, which must be very hurtful. No one can help being what they are! It is also very un-Christian.
    And don’t forget, xenophobia or bigotry is not part and parcel of any one race; it can be found everywhere.


  26. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Thanks K, Like you I am half Irish. The derision I refer to was in the past, as I said, and it has stopped. I think of those “stupid Irish” jokes which were common, and worse in the 1950s.

    Processions are not for me I’m afraid. I cannot call the Chartres one a pilgrimage, others do. For me, a pilgrimage is a solitary or near solitary journey on foot where we encounter difficulties and hardships along the way and we find ways to overcome or dissolve or sidestep those difficulties, and ideally carry those attributes back to normal life. A pilgrimage for me can’t take place among such crowds as the Chartres event, for I find no place for reflection. Ideally I should be able to do this anywhere, but I can’t. Nor can a pilgrimage be bought, just as money can’t buy you love. You can buy a guided walk, but that’s not a pilgrimage as I see it. That’s a guided walk. Likewise the Chartres procession – it is just that, a procession. And I don’t doubt that many find rewards in it, especially arriving at the stunning Chartres. I find Chartres a powerful place of sombre mystery, and Vezelay a powerful place of shining illumination.

    I am aware of the differing views to this, but broadly I’ll stick to that.

    I entirely agree that bigotry is found anywhere. Sadly, I remember the London Irish parents of a London friend complaining about too many immigrants arriving in their street. Sigh.


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