VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis recently condemned Christians who lead a double life by not practising what they preach. In a Feb. 23 homily at Domus Sanctae Marthae, he denounced Catholics who live a hypocritical life, saying it would be better if they were atheists. Catholics are hypocrites, he said, when they go to mass and participate in different church associations, but then do not pay fair wages to employees or they launder money.
The pope reflected spontaneously on the day’s gospel 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 out (your eye),” but do not “scandalize the little ones,” meaning the just ones who believe in God, the pope said, 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.
“There are those who say, ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to mass, I belong to this and that association,’ ” he said.
But, he added, some of these people should also say, “‘My life is not Christian, I don’t pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, (I lead) a double life.’ ’’
“There are many Catholics who are like this and they cause scandal,” he said. “How many times have we all heard people say ‘if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist.’”
“It’s enough to see the news on TV, or to read the papers,” he noted. “In the papers there are so many scandals, and there is also the great publicity of the scandals. And with the scandals there is destruction.”
He gave the example of a company that was on the brink of failure. The leaders wanted to avoid a just strike, but the company had not done well, and they wanted to talk with the authorities of the company. The people didn’t have money for their daily needs because they had not received their wages. And the head of the company, a Catholic, was taking his winter vacation on a beach in the Middle East, and the people knew it, even if it hadn’t made the papers. “These are scandals,” the pope said.
Jesus says in the Gospel that those who are the cause of scandal 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, the pope said, on judgement day God will say: “Yes, I remember those: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.”
This, he said, will be the response Jesus will give to Catholics who lead a double life.
“All of us,” the pope insisted, would benefit from asking if there is 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.”
— with files from Catholic News Service