VATICAN CITY — On Wednesday, Pope Francis said the Easter Triduum is the most important time of year for Christians and stressed that those who truly allows themselves to be transformed by Jesus’ resurrection, while still being sinners, cannot be corrupt.

“A Christian, if he truly allows himself to be washed by Christ, if he truly lets himself be stripped of the ‘old man’ to walk in a new life, even while remaining a sinner, he cannot be corrupt,” the Pope said March 28. “He can no longer live with death in the soul, nor can he be the cause of death.”

The justification Jesus offered by dying on the cross “saves us from corruption,” he said, stressing, as he often has, that while everyone is a sinner, Christians must never be corrupt.

Francis said it is “sad and painful” to see “fake Christians” who claim to be walking according to the path given by Jesus after his resurrection, but who, in reality, are living a corrupt life.

“These fake Christians will end poorly,” he said, adding that “a Christian, I repeat, is a sinner — we all are; I am — but we have the certainty that when we ask for forgiveness the Lord will forgive us. The fake Christian pretends to ask for forgiveness, but in his heart is rotten.”

He then asked pilgrims to join him in praying for these “mafia Christians,” who say they follow Christ but in reality harm themselves and others. “Let us pray for them,” he said, “that the Lord would touch their hearts and souls.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered for his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. He dedicated his catechesis to the Easter Triduum, which he said comprises “the most important days in the liturgical year” and signifies “the fundamental phases of our faith and of our vocation in the world.”

All Christians, he said, “are called to live the three holy days as, so to speak, the ‘matrix’ of their personal and community lives.”

He pointed to St. Paul’s assertion in the Second Book of Corinthians that “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Later, in his Letter to the Romans, Paul describes the Easter transformation in a different way, saying Christ “was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

“The only One that justifies you, the only One that makes you born again is Jesus Christ — no one else!” the Pope said in off-the-cuff remarks, adding that “this is the greatness of the love of Jesus: He gave his life to make us holy, to renew us, to forgive us. And this is precisely the core of the Paschal Mystery.”

In the Triduum, the memory of Christ’s death and resurrection is celebrated and at the same time renews in those who are baptized during the liturgy “the meaning of their new condition,” he said.

This is why there are always people who are baptized during the Easter vigil, Francis explained, noting that during this week’s vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica he will baptize eight people “who will begin their Christian life” in the Church.

Easter is also a time for solidarity with those who suffer, he said, noting that Christians can see the face of Christ in the vulnerable and those experiencing pain and are able to love them with the same love Jesus offered through his sacrifice on the cross.

In another aside, Francis noted how, in many countries, including Argentina, mothers will have their children wash their face and eyes on Easter morning as a symbol of being able to see “in a new way, to see things in the way of Jesus.”

He encouraged everyone with children to try this, seeing it as a concrete “sign of how to see Jesus risen.”

Pope Francis closed his speech by asking that Mary would accompany everyone as the Triduum begins, that they may be “more deeply inserted into the mystery of Christ, his death and resurrection for us.”

Mary “followed Jesus in his passion, was present and united to him on the cross, and received in her maternal heart the immense joy of the Resurrection,” he said, praying that she would obtain for all “the grace of being internally moved by the celebrations of the coming days, so that our hearts and our lives will truly be transformed.”

After his speech, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims in different languages from around the world. In his greeting to Spanish-speaking pilgrims, he encouraged them to “have the courage to go to confession in these days: Make a good confession!”