Pope Francis is lashing out at Catholics who live what he called a “double life” by not practicing Christian values. He even suggested that atheists might be better than members of the faithful who don’t practice the tenets of their faith.
According to a transcript posted online by Vatican Radio, the pontiff called it a “scandal” during his morning mass on Thursday:
“Scandal is saying one thing and doing another; it is a double life, a double life. A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money…’ A double life.”
The pontiff said “many Christians” were living this double life.
“How many times have we heard ― all of us, around the neighborhood and elsewhere ― ‘but to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist,’” he said.
He gave an example of a Christian boss taking a vacation as his workers went unpaid -- and issued a stern warning about where that will lead.
“You will arrive in heaven and you will knock at the gate: ‘Here I am, Lord!’ ― ‘But don’t you remember? I went to Church, I was close to you, I belong to this association, I did this… Don’t you remember all the offerings I made?’ ‘Yes, I remember. The offerings, I remember them: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.’ That will be Jesus’ response to these scandalous people who live a double life.”
He then called on Catholics to examine themselves.
Francis has addressed atheism in the past, and in 2013 he seemed to suggest they may have a path toward Christian salvation.
“Just do good and we’ll find a meeting point,” he said.
A church official later clarified that those who reject Christ cannot be saved, but added that the “rejection of Christianity may not mean the rejection of Christ.”
“We can never say with ultimate certainty whether a non-Christian who has rejected Christianity... is still following the temporary path mapped out for his own salvation which is leading him to an encounter with God,” Rev. Thomas Rosica wrote at the time.