ROME — Created in the image of God, human beings have a dignity they are in danger of degrading when they place material possessions above God in their hearts, Pope Francis said Thursday.
“Reflect on how we are created, formed in the image and likeness of the Creator, the difference with other creatures and with all creation is essential,” Pope Francis said during an audience with the Italian Biblical Association Sept. 15.
“This helps us to understand the dignity that we all have, men and women, dignity which has its roots in the same Creator.”
Pope Francis met with the Italian Biblical Association on the occasion of National Bible Week about their work, which has included discussing the relationship between man and woman as it is written in scripture.
Pope Francis referenced St. Pope John Paul II’s general audience addresses on the “Theology of the Body,” given from 1979-1984, and his own catechesis from a general audience on April 15, 2015, commenting on the first account of creation.
“I had occasion to stress that ‘God, having created the universe and all living things, created the masterpiece that is the human being, made in his image,’” the Pope said.
“I have always been impressed that our dignity is precisely that of being children of God,” Francis continued. And that it “is manifested in the fact that he guides us like a father does with a son.”
God made us in the way of an artist, “shaping the mud from the earth… He created us not only with his words but with his hands and his breath, as if to say that the whole being of God is involved in giving life to the human being,” he said.
However, it is possible that this dignity can “degrade,” Francis noted. This is what happens when we embrace idolatry and allow material things, such as wealth, to take the place of God in our hearts.
So this raises a question, the Pope observed: “how can I share this dignity, so that it develops in a positive reciprocity? How can I make the other feel worthy?”
It is good often to ask ourselves: how do I accept my own dignity? How am I helping others to grow in their dignity? he said.
For, he concluded, “God gave us the dignity of being his children.”