VATICAN CITY — A person may not have killed someone, but if he is angry or has hate toward another person, it is like he has killed him or her in his heart, Pope Francis said Wednesday.

To insult or hate someone, or to have contempt, is a way of “killing the dignity of a person,” the Pope said Oct. 17.

One may think: “I’m fine because I do not do anything wrong,” but he or she is deceiving themselves, he continued. “A mineral or a plant, or the sampietrini stones in the piazza, have this kind of existence; a person — a man or a woman — no.”

“More is required of a man or woman,” he stated. “Human life needs love.”

Pope Francis continued his series of messages on the Ten Commandments at his general audience with a reflection on Christ’s teachings about anger and its connection to the Fifth Commandment: You shall not kill.

Francis referenced the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus is teaching his disciples on the mountain and says: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”

In this passage, the Pope explained, Jesus reveals to his followers that “before God’s court, even anger against a brother is a form of murder.”

Jesus also says that, by the same logic, insult and contempt are sins, too, he added, pointing out how often people are accustomed to insulting others, even commenting sometimes that so-and-so “is dead to me.”  

To do so is like killing them in your heart, the Pope said, adding, “Jesus says: Stop!”

Pope Francis said the commandment to not kill is more than an order against bad actions. It is also “an appeal to love and mercy; it is a call to live according to the Lord Jesus, who gave his life for us and rose for us.”

“And what is authentic love? It is what Christ showed us; that is, mercy. The love we cannot do without is the one that forgives, which welcomes those who have harmed us.”

Pope Francis advised Catholics, before the start of Mass, to strive to be reconciled with anyone they have a problem with and to fight against the temptation to be indifferent toward their fellow human beings.

He pointed to Cain in the Old Testament, who said after he killed his brother Abel, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This is how killers speak, the Pope emphasized. “Are we the keepers of our brothers? Yes, we are! We are the keepers of each other!”

There is more to a person than his or her physical body; there is the spirit, he added, saying that even “an inappropriate phrase is enough to violate the innocence of a child.”

He concluded by urging Catholics to give thanks to Jesus, “the Author of Life.” In Christ, “in his love, [which is] stronger than death, and through the power of the Spirit that the Father gives us, we can welcome the words ‘Do not kill’ as the most important and essential appeal: To not kill is the call to love.”