Pope Francis said it’s better for people to be atheists than to profess to be Catholic but not live their life according to Christian values.
Speaking during his homily at Thursday’s daily Mass, Francis decried people who live a “double life.”
“Scandal is saying one thing and doing another; it is a double life,” the pope said. “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.’”
“So many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others,” Francis continued. “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.’”
Francis, the first pope from South America, has become famous for speaking his mind and delivering blunt messages about what he says is the sometimes misguided focus of the Church. He has spoken compassionately about gay and lesbian Catholics and caused controversy over possible changes to Church policy over giving communion to remarried Catholics.
The pontiff also repeatedly calls on rich countries to do more for the world’s poor and most vulnerable, particularly refugees and migrants. Speaking before a joint meeting of Congress in 2015, Francis reminded lawmakers it was their duty to welcome immigrants into the U.S.
On Thursday, Francis encouraged people to think about whether they were living their lives in accordance with their professed beliefs:
“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.”