- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pope Francis on Thursday criticized Catholics who may faithfully attend Mass but who do not live out what their faith teaches, saying such hypocritical persons “cause scandal” and hinted they were worse than atheists with better morals.

In unscripted remarks, the pontiff said, “It is a scandal to say one thing and do another. That is a double life,” Reuters reported, citing a Vatican Radio transcript.

As he addressed hypocrisy, the Argentine-born head of the Catholic Church seemed to focus his criticism on wealthier Catholics.

“There are those who say ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this and that association,’” Francis said, adding that many of them, were they honest, should 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,” Francis said. “How many times have we all heard people say ‘if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist’?”

Francis has made similar comments about atheists in the past which some media outlets have interpreted as something of a commendation of moral atheists that counters Catholic doctrine, but conservative defenders of the pope have cautioned against misinterpreting the pontiff’s remarks as in any way downplaying the teaching that faith in Christ is essential to salvation.


• Ken Shepherd can be reached at kshepherd@washingtontimes.com.

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