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Scandals can be a poison in the Church, Pope says

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Pope Francis said in his daily homily today at the chapel of the St. Martha Residence in the Vatican that scandals within the Church occur when the people inside of it do not have a true relationship with God. "When we are corrupt we do not give the Bread of Life to eat,” the Pope said, “many times, we…offer a poisoned meal!” The Holy Father reflected on the first reading for the day from First Samuel, where the Philistines defeated the Israelites, even though they had brought the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle.

The Holy Father said that rather than treat the Ark as though it represented God's power, the children of Israel behaved as though it were some "magical" object, and were whipped in battle. “This passage of Scripture makes us think about what sort of relationship we have with God, with the Word of God,” the Pontiff said. The Holy Father asked the congregation of their relationship with God is “a formal relationship? Is it a distant relationship?” The Pope reminded that when the Word of God enters us, we are changed. When our relationship with God becomes one that is overly formalized “the heart is closed to that Word!”

“It leads us to think of the so many defeats of the Church, so many defeats of God's people simply because they do not hear the Lord, do not seek the Lord, do not allow themselves to be sought by the Lord!,” the Pontiff exclaimed. The Israelites asked after their defeat “’But, Lord , what happened ? You have made us the scorn of our neighbors. The scorn and derision of those around us. You have made us the laughing stock among nations! All the nations shake their heads about us,’” Francis pointed out. He then compared the reaction of the Israelites at their defeat to the way some people handle scandals within the Church. “But are we ashamed?,”the Pope asked, “so many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know...We know where they are!”

“But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity,” queried the Pontiff. “Where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God! “They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no!,” Francis exclaimed, saying that some bore the cross in the same way as the Israelites bore the Ark.

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