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Pope says half-hearted Catholics aren’t really Catholics at all

Pope Francis

Call of the heart: Pope Francis says anyone who wants to belong to the Church must be motivated by love and enter with “your whole heart”. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

THOSE who insist others pray and believe exactly like they do, those who have alternatives to every Church teaching and benefactors who use the Church as a cover for business connections may call themselves Catholics, but they have one foot out the door, Pope Francis said.

“Many people say they belong to the Church”, but in reality have “only one foot inside”, the Pope said on June 5 at the morning Mass in the chapel of his residence. “For these people, the Church is not home”, but is a place they use as a rental property, he said, according to Vatican Radio.

Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, John 17:20-26, and Jesus’ prayer that there would be unity, not divisions and conflict, among his disciples. There are three groups of people who called themselves Catholic, but were not really, the Pope said.

Apologising for making up words, he labelled the three groups: “uniformists”, “alternativists” and “businessists”.

The first group, he said, believed that everyone in the Church should be just like them. “They are rigid! They do not have that freedom the Holy Spirit gives”, and they confuse what Jesus preached with their “own doctrine of uniformity”.

“Jesus never wanted the Church to be so rigid,” Pope Francis said. Such people “call themselves Catholics, but their rigid attitude distances them from the Church”.

The second group, those with alternative teachings and doctrines, “has a partial belonging to the Church. These, too, have one foot outside the Church,” he said. “They rent the Church”, not recognising that its teaching is based on the preaching of Jesus and the apostolic tradition.

Members of the third group “call themselves Christians but don’t enter into the heart of the Church”, they use the Church “for personal profit”, the Pope said. “We have all seen them in parish or diocesan communities and religious congregations; they are some of the benefactors of the Church.”

“They strut around proud of being benefactors, but in the end, under the table, make their deals,” he said.

Pope Francis said the Church was made up of people with a variety of differences and gifts, and if one wanted to belong to it, he or she must be motivated by love and enter with “your whole heart”.

Being open to the Spirit, who fostered harmony in diversity, he said, brought “docility”, which was “the virtue that saves us” from entering the Church half-heartedly.


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