Associated PressNews

Pope urges church unity, blames divisions on work of devil

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis called Tuesday for unity in the Catholic Church and blamed its divisions on the devil.

It was the second time in as many days that Francis has warned about the destructive work of the devil after making headlines recently by seeming to deny the existence of hell.

Francis made the comments during a Mass he celebrated along with 550 “missionaries of mercy,” the army of priests he formed during his 2015-2016 Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the sacrament of reconciliation around the globe.

In his homily, Francis said the church and the world need mercy today “so that the unity desired by God in Christ prevails over the negative action of the devil, who takes advantage of all means which can divide rather than unite if used badly.”

Francis has been accused by some conservatives of dividing the church with his mercy-over-morals priorities. But he has held firm, stressing that God’s mercy is infinite and holding up as examples some of the great, forgiving priests he has known in his lifetime.

On Tuesday, in an earlier audience with the “mercy missionaries,” Francis recalled one confessor who was famous in Buenos Aires for his mercy, the Rev. Aristi, who died some two decades ago at the age of 94.

Francis recalled that when he went to pray at Aristi’s open casket, he snatched the cross from the rosary the dead man clutched in his hands, as a keepsake of sorts, despite the biblical commandment not to steal.

“I’ve carried that cross with me from that moment on, and I ask him the grace to be merciful,” he said.

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Joel Rodgers

Joel Rodgers joined RSHV News 1 in January 2018 as a reporter/journalist. Prior to joining our team, Joel spent the previous 5 years as a morning show reporter, entertainment reporter, and sports reporter for a local television station. At 6’5”, he's the tallest reporter in the history of Shreveport, but it’s more than just his height that makes this Shreveport native stand out. His editing skills combined with his love for storytelling makes for a creative and talented addition to the RSHV News 1 team. After attending and graduating from Evangel Christian Academy, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern State University. Joel is very active in the Shreveport community having won several competitions in recent years. In 2017, he danced his way to victory in the annual Susan G. Komen event, “Dancing for the Cure." He’s also won the “Mudbug Madness” Crawfish eating contest in back-to-back years and was named the top celebrity chef at the “Louisiana Food Prize” cooking competition. If you have a story idea, news tip, or just want to say "hey" - you can do so by emailing Joel Rodgers at
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