Pope Francis: Christians cannot 'bargain' with God

At the end of the Pontiff's address, coloured balloons were released to symbolise peace.Reuters

Faith in God is not an "investment" and cannot be used to "bargain" with God, Pope Francis said yesterday.

Speaking to people gathered in St Peter's Square, the Pope said the only privilege offered in the eyes of God is "to have no privileges and to be abandoned in his [God's] hands".

"True religion is about receiving the revelation of a God who is a Father and who cares for each one of his creatures, even the smallest and most insignificant in the eyes of humankind," Francis added.

God "comes to visit us with his mercy, raises us from the dust of our sins".

The Pope also said that there is no one excluded from the heart of God, who "holds out his hand to draw us back from the abyss into which we have been driven by our pride, and invites us to welcome the consoling truth of the Gospel and to walk on the right paths. He always comes looking for us".

As it was World Leprosy Day, Francis offered his prayers to those suffering from the disease, which he said "unfortunately still affects the poorest and most marginalised".

He ended his address with the launch of coloured balloons symbolising peace, Vatican Radio reported. He also pleaded with those gathered: "Please do not forget to pray for me."