Pope Francis had some harsh words for the Catholic Church on Sunday, warning that clergy and Christian members alike must remain true to the word of God with their actions, or else risk the credibility of their shared religion.
Elected one month ago amid a myriad of ongoing sex scandals in the Catholic church, Francis’ message Sunday may set the tone for the rest of his tenure, at least concerning incidents of the sexual abuse of children by priests.
Speaking at the Papal Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, Francis took the opportunity to greet pilgrims and local Church members in St. Peter’s Square prior to Mass.
“Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility,” Francis said.
“Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God!”
Though Pope Francis’ words were on-point, will his actions follow through? His first major decision Saturday saw the pontiff setting up an advisory board of cardinals, which will help govern the church, as well as reform its central administration. Under his predecessor, leadership was troubled by infighting and alleged corruption in the Vatican.
Pope Benedict left a report concerning these scandals to his successor, with a handful of documents released to the public in the recent “Vatileaks” scandal.
Still, Francis has shown initiative in tackling these issues and leading by example, showing unprecedented humility and pragmatism in his leadership and personal life thus far.
Aside from living in a simple quarters in the Vatican instead of the traditional (and regal) papal apartments, Francis has also said that he seeks “a poor Church, and for the poor.”
On Sunday, Francis said that each Christian has a unique opportunity to become a saint, which he termed “middle class holiness.”
“There are the saints of every day, the ‘hidden’ saints, a sort of ‘middle class of holiness’… to which we can all belong.”
Are you a fan of Pope Francis?