Jesus does not tolerate hypocrisy, pope says

Jesus does not tolerate hypocrisy, pope says

Vatican City — Jesus enjoys unmasking hypocrisy, which is the work of the devil, Pope Francis said.

Christians, in fact, must learn to avoid hypocrisy by scrutinizing and acknowledging their own personal faults, failings and sins, he said Oct. 15 during morning Mass at the DomusSanctaeMarthae.

“A Christian who does not know how to accuse himself is not a good Christian,” he said.

The pope focused his homily on the day’s Gospel reading (Lk 11:37-41) in which Jesus criticizes his host for being concerned only with outward appearances and superficial rituals, saying, “although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.”

Francis said the reading shows how much Jesus does not tolerate hypocrisy, which, the pope said, “is appearing one way but being something else” or hiding what one really thinks.

When Jesus calls the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs” and hypocrites, these words are not insults but the truth, the pope said.

“On the outside you are perfect, strait-laced actually, with decorum, but inside you are something else,” he said.

“Hypocritical behavior comes from the great liar, the devil,” who is a huge hypocrite himself, the pope said, and he makes those like him on earth his “heirs.”

“Hypocrisy is the language of the devil; it is the language of evil that enters our heart and is sown by the devil. You can’t live with hypocritical people, but they exist,” the pope said.

“Jesus likes to unmask hypocrisy,” he said. “He knows it will be precisely this behavior that leads to his death because the hypocrite does not think about using legitimate means or not, he plows ahead: slander? ‘Let’s use slander.’ False witness? ‘Let’s look for an untruthful witness.'”

Hypocrisy, the pope said, is common “in the battle for power, for example, (with) envy, jealousies that make you appear to be one way and inside there is poison for killing because hypocrisy always kills, sooner or later, it kills.”

The only “medicine” to cure hypocritical behavior is to tell the truth before God and take responsibility for oneself, the pope said.

“We have to learn to accuse ourselves, ‘I did this, I think this way, badly. I am envious. I want to destroy that one,'” he said.

People need to reflect on “what is inside of us” to see the sin, hypocrisy and “the wickedness that is in our heart” and “to say it before God” with humility, he said.

Francis asked people to learn from St. Peter, who implored, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

“May we learn to accuse ourselves, us, our own self,” he said.

Synod Day 7: Appreciating the charism of the laity, distancing ourselves from clericalism

Synod Day 7: Appreciating the charism of the laity, distancing ourselves from clericalism

During the 10th General Congregation which took place on the afternoon of 14 October, the participants in the Special Amazon Synod continued their work. In addition to Pope Francis, there were 177 Synod Fathers present, as well as other auditors, experts and invited guests.

Vatican News – Vatican City

Rethinking ministry in the Church in the light of the parameters of synodality so that the Church might be more and more formed by the Word of God was defined as one of the challenges of the Church in the Amazon region. Several interventions given this afternoon in the Synod Hall highlighted this.

The Word of God

The Word of God is an active and merciful presence; it is educative and prophetic, formative and performative. It underpins that challenge of integral ecology and can be a means for social, economic, cultural and political development and a new humanism. New ministers of the Word, including women, are needed to provide new responses to contemporary challenges. The Church must, therefore, invest in the formation of a well-prepared laity who, in a missionary spirit, will know how to proclaim the Gospel in every part of the Amazon. Providing an adequate formation for committed laity, it was noted, is also fundamental for promoting indigenous vocations to the religious life and ordained ministries.

The role of the laity and women

It was also said in the Hall that the gifts of the laity need to be better expressed and appreciated in a ministerial Church. Thanks to the laity, the Church is manifesting itself as a Church moving outward, distancing itself from clericalism. One intervention in particular suggested that the question of the so-called viriprobati and the discussion regarding ministries open to women should be treated in an Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops since this theme affects the universal Church. Others suggested that women could be included in non-ordained ministries, ministries intended as service, so as to guarantee the dignity and equality of women in the entire Pan-Amazonian territory. Such ministries could be, for example, that of presiding over celebrations of the Word, or leading the activity of a social-charitable nature.

Viriprobati

Another intervention counselled that prior to having viriprobati priests, it would be necessary to think of viriprobati deacons—that is, that the viriprobati priests would come from the ranks of permanent deacons. The Permanent Deaconate can, therefore, be an appropriate “laboratory” for the possible future inclusion of married men to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Care for minors and vulnerable adults

Regarding the care of minors and vulnerable adults in the Amazon, the terrible scourge of pedophilia and other forms of sexual abuse requires that the Church be ever vigilant and courageous. It was emphasized that the greatest challenge is that of transparency and responsibility so that these crimes can be prevented and combatted.

Sexual exploitation of the young was a recurring theme. One person said that criminal networks rob children of their infancy, making them also victims of the trafficking of organs. One statistic alone suffices to illustrate how dramatic the situation is: in 2018 in Brazil alone, 62 thousand rapes were recorded. This is one of the highest numbers in the Amazon region.

At the bottom of all of this are grave economic inequality and the lack of government intervention capable of combatting such horrendous crimes both at the local and international levels. Thus arose the appeal for an increased commitment in the area of prevention, including the involvement of the Episcopal Conferences and religious congregations.

The fight against human trafficking, which also heavily involves minors and women, was brought to the attention of those in the Synod hall. They were reminded that the victims of this drama are among the most dehumanized in the world. It was proposed that through the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, large companies be made to comply with international policy regarding human trafficking and that a Special Pastoral Commission be instituted to deal specifically with this crime.

Pastoral work for vocations and youth ministry

From other interventions, there emerged the importance of the pastoral work for vocations which cannot be left out of the work of evangelization. Furthermore, all evangelization must be accompanied by youth ministry which is a call to, and at the same time, a proposal for, a personal encounter with Christ. Those in the Hall were reminded that young people who wish to follow Christ need to be supported by adequate formation through the witness of holy and committed lives. It follows that priests must be capable of understanding completely the specific needs of the Amazon region. Their formation cannot be excessively academic, but most proceed with a missionary spirit and the heart of a shepherd.

Water: a primary resource

Forming catechists toward an integral ecology was underlined again, particularly regarding caring for and safeguarding water, a primary resource and source of life. This theme was also repeated by several auditors and invited guests. One provided the statistic that thousands of children die every day due to water related diseases. Another recalled what Pope Francis has said in the past that the next world war will be connected with water. It is urgent that there be a global awareness of the need to protect our common home, and that we be reconciled with creation. “Later will be too late”, those in the hall were told. An “ecological conversion” consists also in looking at the ethical dimension underpinning contemporary life styles which are often too technocratic, whose ultimate objective is that of turning everything into profit to the detriment of the vision of the human being as an integral human person.

The challenge of communication

A theme from the morning’s 9th General Congregation was repeated in the afternoon: that of communication. It was affirmed that through the mass media we must be open to communicate to every culture and in every language in order to support the Amazonian peoples. Church-sponsored media should, therefore, be a place to consolidate local knowledge which can be done through the formation of indigenous communicators.

Other reflections made by various Synodal Fathers included defending the indigenous peoples, which could also be carried out through education and through other small projects aimed at social development. Because they are often marginalized from society, indigenous populations should not be viewed as “incapable”, but must be empowered, listened to, understood and welcomed. From this theme, emerged the invitation for greater cooperation between the Justice and Peace Commission and that for promoting human rights.

Pope Francis’ reflection

When the Congregation concluded, Pope Francis spoke, reflecting on various themes that had emerged during the afternoon and highlighted a few things that had struck him the most.

Pope opens Synod discussions: urges understanding and service

Pope opens Synod discussions: urges understanding and service

Pope Francis opens discussions at the Synod for the Amazon, reminding participants of the pastoral dimension of the gathering, and the need to focus on understanding and serving the people of the Amazon.

By Vatican News

The Synod for the Amazon opened with a procession from St Peter’s Basilica, out into the Square, through the Arch of the Bells, and into the Synod Hall. There, Pope Francis opened the proceedings with a discourse in Spanish in which he spoke of the Synod as having four dimensions: pastoral, cultural, social, and ecological.

The pastoral dimension of the Synod

The pastoral dimension, he said, is the essential dimension, “the one that embraces everything”. We need to approach this Synod “with a Christian heart and see the reality of Amazonia with the eyes of a disciple”. Only then, said the Pope, can we understand and interpret it.

The pastoral dimension allows us to consider the people of the Amazon “respecting their history, cultures, and way of living”. Because all peoples, continued the Pope, “have their own wisdom, awareness, their way of feeling, of seeing reality”.

Ideological colonization

Pope Francis warned of the ideological colonization that reduces or destroys the characteristics of a people. “Ideologies lead us to exaggerate in our attempt to understand intellectually, but without accepting”, he added. We reduce reality to categories or “-isms”. These become slogans that prejudice the way we approach a people.

The Pope gave the example of “civilization and barbarism” which only serves, he said, “to divide and annihilate” by qualifying people and putting a distance between us.

Feathers vs birettas

Pope Francis said he was “sad to hear the mocking comments” made about the indigenous man who carried the offerings at the Synod’s Opening Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday. The comments were about the feathers the man wore on his head.

“Tell me”, challenged the Pope, “what difference is there between wearing feathers on his head and the biretta” (the three-cornered hat) used by some officials in Vatican Departments?

Pragmatic vs paradigmatic

Pope Francis also warned of “proposing purely pragmatic measures” when we ought to think “in a paradigmatic way”, a perspective “that is born from the reality of peoples”.

“We have not come here to invent programs of social development”, continued the Pope, aimed at keeping cultures in a museum. We are here, he said, “to contemplate, to understand, to serve the people”.

The Holy Spirit protagonist of the Synod

We do this, continued Pope Francis, in Synod. “A Synod is not a parliament”, he explained, “it is not to demonstrate who has more power” or “who has the majority”. A Synod is “walking together under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Synod, said the Pope. He needs “to express Himself among us, with us, through us, and despite us”.

Humility and a sense of humour

Finally, Pope Francis urged participants to “reflect, dialogue, listen with humility… and speak with courage, with parrhesia”. To participate in the Synod is “to enter into a process”, he said, not just “to occupy space in the room”.

We need to be respectful, he added, and to be prudent in the way we communicate, not to spoil the Synod process by creating conflicting messages: “a Synod from the inside and a Synod from the outside”.

“And please”, concluded Pope Francis, “let’s not lose our sense of humour”.

Pope Francis urges Mauritius to shun ‘idolatrous economic model’

Pope Francis urges Mauritius to shun ‘idolatrous economic model’

Pope Francis on Monday urged Mauritius, a prosperous magnet for tourists and a global tax haven, to shun an “idolatrous economic model” that excludes the youth and the poor and damages the environment.

The Argentine pontiff’s visit to the idyllic Indian Ocean island began with a mass attended by an estimated 100,000 faithful, ecstatically waving palm fronds and cheering “Francis, Francis”.

While the island is a beacon of stability and relative prosperity, Pope Francis honed in on the struggles of the youth, who face growing inequality, unemployment and the scourge of drug abuse.

“It is a hard thing to say, but, despite the economic growth your country has known in recent decades, it is the young who are suffering the most. They suffer from unemployment, which not only creates uncertainty about the future, but also prevents them from believing that they play a significant part in your shared history,” said the pope.

“Let us not allow those who deal in death to rob the first fruits of this land,” he said, referring to drug dealers.

According to a Mauritius Drug Observatory report in 2018, the smuggling and use of drugs such as heroin, cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamine, has grown in recent years.

He continued this theme in a later address at the presidential palace, warning that the country’s system of economic growth sidelined the young.

Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a poor, agriculture-based economy, to one of Africa’s wealthiest nations and financial services hub.

It has increasingly come under fire for helping global companies avoid paying taxes — often in poor African nations — and was in 2015 placed on a European Union tax haven blacklist.

General unemployment is low compared to the rest of the continent at 6.9 percent in 2018 according to the World Bank, but is high among the youth at 22 percent and inequality is seen to be rising.

Pope Francis urged Madagascar “not to yield to the temptation of an idolatrous economic model that feels the need to sacrifice human lives on the altar of speculation and profit alone, considering only immediate advantage to the detriment of protecting the poor, the environment and its resources”. According to the World Bank, one of the greatest challenges for the island is adapting to the effects of climate change — which has worsened tropical storms and floods affecting it.

Obeying God is the Key to Christian Life – Pope Francis

Obeying God is the Key to Christian Life – Pope Francis

Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, celebrating the Feast of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

Hannah Brockhaus/CNA

An important aspect of the Christian life is obeying God even when there may be consequences for going against the commands of others, Pope Francis said during the general audience Wednesday.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter offers “a key to the Christian life: ‘To obey God instead of men,’” the pope said Aug. 28, adding that “it is the great Christian response.”

“This means listening to God without reservations, without postponements, without calculations,” he said. “Adhere to him to become capable of covenant with him and with [those] whom we meet on our way.”

Continuing his weekly catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Francis commented on a passage in chapter five, when the apostles are teaching and performing “signs and wonders” among the people.

In Acts 5:14-15 it says “more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them” and they were bringing their sick out into the streets, “so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.”

The pope pointed out that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, only has to pass by and even “his shadow becomes a ‘caress’ … an outpouring of the tenderness of the Risen One who bends over the sick and restores life, salvation, dignity.”

This is one way God manifests his closeness, he said. This is what it means to be a witness, manifesting Christ “both with words and with bodily presence.”

The sick and disturbed were all healed at the hands of the apostles. Francis emphasized this aspect, explaining that the sick “are privileged for the Church, for the priestly heart, for all the faithful.”

“They are not to be discarded, on the contrary, they are to be treated, to be looked after: They are the object of Christian concern,” he said.

What follows in Acts, Francis said, is that “Peter’s healing action arouses the hatred of the Sadducees, [arouses] envy, [they] imprison the apostles and, upset about their mysterious liberation, forbid them to teach.”

The hearts of the Sadducees were hard, he said, and they did not want to believe what they had seen – the healings and the apostles’ miraculous release from prison at the hands of an angel.

The apostles were then brought for questioning before the high priest, who said: “We gave you strict orders [did we not?] to stop teaching in that name. But Peter and the apostles said in reply, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”

Pope Francis said: “We also ask the Holy Spirit for the strength not to be frightened before those who command us to keep quiet, who slander us and even attack our lives.”

“Let us ask him to strengthen us inwardly to be certain of the loving and consoling presence of the Lord by our side.”

At the end of the general audience, the pope noted the Aug. 28 feast day of St. Augustine.

“Today we celebrate the memory of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church,” he said. “I invite everyone to be inspired by his holiness and his teaching. Together with him, rediscover the way of interiority that leads to God and to the neighbor most in need.”

Pope Francis: Self-interest and hypocrisy destroy the Church

Pope Francis: Self-interest and hypocrisy destroy the Church

By Courtney Grogan

Pope Francis decried hypocrisy and self-interest Wednesday, saying that Christian community should always be characterized by generosity and solidarity.

“A life set only on profiting and taking advantage of situations at the expense of others inevitably causes interior death,” Pope Francis said Aug. 21 in Paul VI Hall.

“And how many people say they are close to the Church, friends of priests, bishops, while they are only looking for their own interest. These are the hypocrisies that destroy the Church,” he added in a departure from his prepared remarks.

Pope Francis said he asks the Lord to “pour over us His Spirit of tenderness, which overcomes all hypocrisy and puts into circulation that truth which nourishes Christian solidarity.”

The pope said that solidarity is “the inalienable expression of the nature of the Church,” which he called the “tender mother of all, especially the poorest.”

Photo: Pope Francis at the general audience in Paul VI Hall Aug. 21, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA
Photo: Pope Francis at the general audience in Paul VI Hall Aug. 21, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

“Being members of the body of Christ makes believers co-responsible for each other. Being believers in Jesus makes us all co-responsible for each other,” he said.

“Among Christians we cannot say: ‘Poor person, he has a problem at home, he is going through this family difficulty’. But, I must pray. I carry it with me. I am not be indifferent. This is being a Christian,” Francis explained.

Throughout Pope Francis’ general audience, a young girl who appeared to have a mental disability, danced across the stage clapping her hands in front of the pope in Paul VI Hall.

“We have all seen this beautiful girl – she is beautiful … victim of an illness and does not know what she is doing,” he said.

Pope Francis asked the audience if they had prayed for this young girl and her family. “Whenever we see someone suffering we must pray,” he said.

The pope stressed the importance of concrete acts of generosity in the life of a Christian, particularly with one’s time and money.

“The sign that your heart has converted is when conversion reaches your pockets,” he said. “There  is where we see if one is generous with others, if one helps the weakest, the poorest.”

In the life of the Church, there have always been Christians who stripped themselves of unnecessary things to give them to those who needed them, Pope Francis said.

He pointed to the example of the early Christians described in the Acts of the Apostles.

“A concrete example of sharing and communion of goods comes to us from the testimony of Barnabas: he owns a field and sells it to deliver the proceeds to the Apostles,” Francis said.

“The Christian community is born from the overabundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit and grows thanks to the leaven of sharing between brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a dynamism of solidarity that builds the Church as the family of God,” he said.

Pope Francis also pointed out that there were negative examples of hypocrisy and selfishness among this same community. He described the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira described in chapter 5 of the Acts of the Apostles.

Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property to give the proceeds to the apostles, but retained for themselves a portion of the purchase price.

To which St. Peter responded, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the Holy Spirit and retained part of the price of the land? … Why did you contrive this deed? You have lied not to human beings, but to God.”

Upon hearing these words from Peter, Ananias fell down and died. “This cheating interrupts the chain of free sharing… and the consequences are tragic, are fatal,” Pope Francis said.

“We could say that Ananias lied to God because of an isolated conscience,” he said. “Hypocrisy is the worst enemy of this Christian community, of this Christian love: that of pretending to love each other, but only looking for one’s own interest.” “To fail in the sincerity of sharing … in the sincerity of love, means to cultivate hypocrisy, move away from the truth, to become selfish, to extinguish the fire of communion and turn to the frost of interior death,” the pope said.