Pope Takes Strong Stand Against Those Attacking Church: “Hypocrites are the devil’s instrument for destroying the Church”

In Santa Marta Pope Francis admonishes those who “scandalize” before the sins of others for they “believe they have been saved thanks to their own external merits”. “Jesus forgives and uses mercy, let’s not forget that when we badmouth others”

SALVATORE CERNUZIO La Stampa
VATICAN CITY

“But look, what a scandal! You can’t live like that! We have lost our values… Now everyone has the right to enter the church, even divorced people, everyone? But where are we?”. In the past or in the present many have been the “just” and “pure” people who have pronounced such phrases inside and outside the Church. Francis gives a name to these criticisms and public denunciations: “the scandal of the hypocrites”, he says in today’s mass in Santa Marta. It is “the hypocrisy of those who believe themselves saved for their own external merits”.

Jesus himself shows a very harsh attitude towards these people who “on the outside show “everything beautiful” but are “rotten” inside. They have rottenness inside”. Christ defines them, “Whitewashed tombs”. And Francis adds more: “As the Church walks through history, she is persecuted by hypocrites: hypocrites from inside and from outside.

The devil has nothing to do with repentant sinners, because they look at God and say: “Lord, I am a sinner, help me”. And the devil is powerless, but he is strong with the hypocrites. He is strong, and uses them to destroy, destroy people, destroy society, destroy the Church. The devil’s workhorse is hypocrisy, because he is a liar: he shows himself as a powerful, beautiful prince, and yet he is a murderer”.

The testimony offered by Jesus is totally opposite Francis, affirms in his homily reported by Vatican News: a great, total love, which looks also at the “small gesture of good will, fostering it and carrying it forward”. As happens for example for the woman of today’s Gospel, who does not hide her condition of “sinner” but shows a great love for Christ. “Her many sins are forgiven, because she loved so much”, are the words of Jesus on which the Pope invites us to reflect. “She was forgiven so much because she loved so much”.

“But how to love? They do not know how to love”, someone object. “They seek love,” the Pope replied. “Jesus, speaking of these women – Jesus once said – that they will be before us, in the Kingdom of Heaven”. “But what a scandal… these people”, the Pharisees exclaim, who “have an attitude that only hypocrites often have: they scandalize” before other’s sins, Francis notes.

He concludes by exhorting us “not to forget that Jesus forgives, receives and uses mercy, a word that is often forgotten when we talk about others”. Like Jesus, we must “be merciful and not condemn others. [Put] Jesus at the center. Only in this way, insists the Pope, can we meet “true love”, unlike hypocrites “unable to meet love because their hearts are closed”.

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