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Pope Francis warns against those who use the Church for "rent"

Scenes of Pope Francis' trip to the Holy Land, in the West Bank on May 25th with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Scenes of Pope Francis' trip to the Holy Land, in the West Bank on May 25th with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Photo by PPO/Getty Images

In his daily homily today at the chapel of the Vatican's St. Martha guesthouse, Pope Francis warned against a mentality in the Church that merely uses the Body of Christ as something to rent, saying that many people fill the pews, but aren't truly committed to the faith. "The Church is not a house to rent, but it is a home to live in," Francis preached. The Pope went on to describe two groups of people. One group is so rigid that they fail to meet people where they are and reach out to others with the Gospel. “Uniformity, rigidity – these are hard. They do not have the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives,” the Pope said, “they confuse the Gospel that Jesus preached with their doctrine of equality.”.

“Christ never wanted His Church to be so rigid – never – and such as these, because of their attitude, do not enter the Church. They call themselves Christians, Catholics, but their attitude drives them away from the Church.”

The Pope then said that a second group also uses the Church for "rent," those who want to call themselves Catholic but who consciously remain attached to their own ideas and refuse to think with the mind of the Church, and who openly and knowingly reject Church teaching. “They enter the Church, but with this idea, with that ideology, and so their membership in the Church is partial,” Francis pointed out, “they have one foot out of the Church. The Church is not their home, not their own, either. They rent the Church at some point.”

“Such as these have been with us from the beginning of the preaching of the Gospel: think of the Gnostics, whom the Apostle John beats so roundly, right? ‘We are ... yes, yes ... we are Catholics, but with these ideas - alternatives.’ They do not share that feeling of belonging to the Church.”

The Pope also railed against those who go to the Church, and may even be benefactors, but who do so for personal gain. “They strut their stuff as benefactors of the Church, and at the end, behind the table, they do their business. These, too, do not feel the Church as a mother, as their own,” Francis said. The Pope said that we must trust the Holy Spirit, who can accomplish "unity in diversity, freedom, and generosity." Docility to the Holy Spirit "is the virtue that will save us from being rigid, from being alternativists or exploitationists – or businessmen in the Church: being docile to the Holy Spirit.”