In a homily the Pope says priests who struggle to be merciful should avoid hearing Confessions

Pope Francis stressed the importance of forgiveness in his homily this morning, saying that “if you can’t forgive, you are not a Christian”.

Francis said: “You may be a good man, a good woman … but you are not doing what our Lord did. What’s more, if you can’t forgive, you cannot receive the peace of the Lord.”

At a Mass at the Santa Marta residence the Pope said forgiveness should not just be the words one says in the Our Father.

“We are trying to ‘convince’ God that we’re good, that we’re good by forgiving: in reverse. [It’s just] words, right? As that beautiful song went: ‘Words, words, words,’ wasn’t it? I think it was [the Italian singer] Mina who sung it. Words! Forgive one another! Just as the Lord has forgiven us, you do likewise.”

Francis also said priests who “can’t manage to be merciful” should stop themselves from hearing Confessions.

The Pope said: “If you are a priest and you can’t manage to be merciful, tell your bishop who will give you a job in administration but please don’t go into the confessional box! A priest who is not merciful does a lot of harm in the confessional box! He beats people.”

He also advised against priests hearing Confessions when they were very stressed. “Before going to hear Confessions, go to your doctor who will give you some pills to make you less stressed! But show mercy! And also show mercy among ourselves.”

Francis reiterated his condemnation of arms manufacturers, saying their weapons “eventually become bathed in the blood of so many innocent people”. The Pope said: “Peace saves us, peace makes you live, it makes you grow: war annihilates you, it drags you down.”

In the past Pope Francis has said Confession should not be “torture”. “Everyone should leave the confessional with joy in his heart, his face beaming with hope,” he told priests in March.