Meeting a pilgrimage of Catholics and Lutherans from Germany, Pope Francis said he does not like “the contradiction of those who want to defend Christianity in the West, and, on the other hand, are against refugees and other religions.”
“This is not something I’ve read in books, but I see in the newspapers and on television every day,” Pope Francis said.
Answering questions from young people in the group this morning, the
pope said, “the sickness or, you can say the sin, that Jesus condemns
most is hypocrisy,” which is precisely what is happening when someone
claims to be a Christian but does not live according to the teaching of
“You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian,” he said.
“You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes. You
cannot be a Christian without doing what Jesus teaches us in Matthew
This is a reference to Christ’s injunction to help the needy by
such works of mercy as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and
welcoming the stranger.
“It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee
or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out
someone who is in need of my help,” he said. “If I say I am Christian,
but do these things, I’m a hypocrite.”
Asked what he thought of the Reformation, Pope Francis said the
Christian community is called to continual growth and maturity, and its
entire history has been marked by reform movements “small and not so
small,” some of which were healthy and holy, others which went awry
because of human sin.
“The greatest reformers of the church are the saints, those men and
women who follow the word of God and practice it,” he told the pilgrims,
most of whom came from Martin Luther’s home region of Saxony-Anhalt.
In his formal talk to the group, Pope Francis said Christians must
praise God that, in the past 50 years, Catholics and Lutherans have
moved “from conflict to communion. We already have traveled an important
part of the road together.”
Noting that he would go to Lund, Sweden, at the end of the month to
participate with Lutheran leaders in opening commemorations of the 500th
anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Pope Francis said an
important part of the commemoration would be a joint commitment to
working together in a world “thirsting for God and his mercy.”
The world needs Christians to witness God’s mercy “through service to
the poorest, the sick (and) those who have abandoned their homelands in
search of a better future for themselves and their families,” he said.
“In putting ourselves at the service of the neediest,” Pope Francis
said, “we will experience that we already are united; it is God’s mercy
that unites us.”