Pope says better an atheist than a Catholic living a double life

Pope says better an atheist than a Catholic living a double life

Pope says better an atheist than a Catholic living a double life

Pope Francis celebrates a Mass at Santa Marta residence at the Vatican, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. (Credit: L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP.)

Addressing those present in his daily morning Mass on Thursday, Francis asked them how many times they had heard someone saying “But to be a Catholic like him, better to be an atheist!”

ROME— Pope Francis on Thursday denounced Catholics living what he called a “double life,” meaning such hypocrisy as going to Mass and participating in different Church associations, but then not paying fair wages to employees or laundering money.

Addressing those present in his daily morning Mass on Thursday, Francis asked them how many times they had heard someone say, “But to be a Catholic like him, better to be an atheist!”

Such contradictions, he insisted, are a scandal.

Francis’s words came during his improvised homily at his daily morning Mass at the Santa Marta, the residence within Vatican grounds where he’s lived since the beginning of his pontificate. His reflection was rooted on the day’s Gospel, from the book of St. Mark, in which Jesus gives a warning about anyone who “causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin.”

“Cut off your hand,” “pluck [your eye] out,” but do not “scandalize the little ones,” meaning the just ones who believe in God, the pope said in his homily, according to Vatican Radio.

“But what is scandal? Scandal is to say one thing and doing another; it’s [leading a] double life,” he said.

“I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and this other, but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay what is just to my employees, I exploit people, I’m dirty in the way I do business, I launder money … a double life,” he said.

The pope regretted that there are “many” Catholics like this, and they cause scandal.

According to the pope, Jesus says in the Gospel that those who are the cause of scandal- “without using the word ‘scandal,’ but it’s understood”- will knock on the doors of heaven and introduce themselves to God, saying, “Don’t you remember me? I went to Church, I was close to you … Don’t you remember all the offerings I gave?”

To these, Francis argued, on judgement day God will say: “Yes, I remember those: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.”

This, the pontiff insisted, will be the response Jesus will give to Catholics who lead a double life.

“All of us,” the pope said, would benefit from asking if there’s any resemblance of a double life, if there’s “excessive confidence” and a tendency to say “yes, but the Lord will forgive it all,” or that there will be time to convert at a later point.

“Let us think about this,” Francis said, closing his homily. “And let us take advantage of the word of the Lord and remember that on this the Lord is very severe. Scandal destroys.”

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