Pope: Imitate St Francis by stripping away worldliness

On a pilgrimage to Assisi, Pope Francis has called on all Christians and the whole Church to imitate St Francis by embracing poverty and stripping away worldly attitudes.

“A Christian cannot coexist with the spirit of the world,” he said, speaking in a room of the Assisi archbishop’s residence where St Francis shed himself of his rich clothes and embraced a life of poverty.

Worldliness, the Pope said, “leads us to vanity, arrogance, pride. And this is an idol, it is not of God.”

Those who try to act as Christians without renouncing their worldly attitudes become “pastry-shop Christians”, the Pope said — “nice sweet things, but not real Christians”.

“The worldly spirit kills; it kills people,” he continued. “It kills the Church.”

While he spoke of the need to purify the Church, Pope Francis poked fun at anxious Catholics who had predicted in the media that he would “strip the bishops, the cardinals, himself” during his visit to Assisi. He assured listeners that he intended only to strengthen the Church by eliminating distractions.

The Pope said he directed his invitation not merely to the hierarchy but to all the Church’s members, and that he sought renunciation of spiritual complacency as well as of material riches.

“When the media speak of the Church, they believe that the Church means priests, nuns, bishops, cardinals and the Pope,” he observed. “But the Church is all of us and we all have to strip ourselves of this worldliness.”

In a homily at a Mass he celebrated in the square outside the Basilica of St Francis, the Pope disputed popular misconceptions of St Francis and his legacy.

The common association of St Francis with the cause of peace and love for creation is badly incomplete, he said.

The peace which Francis received, experienced and lived “is the peace of Christ, which is born of the greatest love of all, the love of the cross”, the Pope said.

“Franciscan peace is not something saccharine. Hardly. That is not the real St Francis. Nor is it a kind of pantheistic harmony with the forces of the cosmos. That is not Franciscan either; it is a notion some people have invented.”


Catholic News Service

Vatican Radio

Catholic News Agency

Image: Free Republic

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News category: World.

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