Pope Francis said on Friday that at some churches it is difficult to tell whether you are in a house of God or a supermarket.
“There we have a business, including the price list for the sacraments – nothing is free!” the pope said during his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The pontiff was continuing his reflections on the readings this week from 2 Maccabees, the Old Testament work about the Jewish revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the ruler of the Seleucid Empire.
The king tried to Hellenize the Jewish people, and outlawed various Jewish practices and religious rites.
The Maccabean revolt led to the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, which is commemorated in the Jewish feast of Hanukkah.
Meanwhile, the Gospel reading was the passage from the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus drove the merchants from the temple, that he said was transformed into a den of thieves.
According to a report by Vatican Radio, Francis said watchfulness, service and gratuitousness are three things that can help us keep clean the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The pope said the temple can be safeguarded through service.
The pope mentioned St. John Chrysostom reprimanding those who were making many offerings to decorate the church but were not caring for the poor.
“This is not good. First service, then decoration,” the pope said.
“Purifying the temple means caring for others,” he continued. “When we come forward to serve, to help, we resemble Jesus who is inside us.”
The pontiff then said it was “sad” when someone entered a parish or bishop’s house, and could not tell “whether we are in the house of God or in a supermarket,” and complained about clerics charging for sacraments.
The pope said God does not make people pay for salvation.
Francis anticipated the main objection to this point: That money is needed to maintain the buildings, provide for the priests, etc. … but responded by saying, “Give freely, and God will do the rest. God will give what is lacking.”
He concluded by saying our churches should be “churches of service, churches that are free of charge.”