'Humble charity' overcomes corruption, Pope Francis preaches

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at a General Audience, May 28, 2014. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Pope Francis on Monday denounced corruption among those in authority in politics, business, and the Church, urging Christians to overcome it through both service and charity.

“Corruption is precisely the sin that the person with authority – whether political, economic or ecclesiastical – over others has most readily to hand,” the Pope said in his June 16 homily during Mass at the chapel of Casa Santa Marta.  

“We are all tempted to corruption. It is a ‘handy’ sin, for when one has authority, one feels powerful, one feels almost like God.”

He noted news stories about politicians and business owners who “got rich by magic,” and then later find themselves in court.

“We hear too much talk of a prelate who has become rich too, and left his pastoral duty to care for his power,” the Roman Pontiff said.

He said the corrupt seek “well-being, money, then the power, vanity, pride – and from there, everything (becomes possible), even killing.”

Pope Francis said the poor especially suffer the costs of political and economic corruption: country hospitals go without medicine, patients go without care, and children go without education.

He also reflected on the spiritual consequences of corruption within the Church.

“Who pays the price for the corruption of a prelate?”

“The children pay, who cannot make the sign of the cross, who do not know the catechism, who are not cared for. The sick who are not visited, the imprisoned who receive no spiritual attention.”

“The poor pay. Corruption is paid by the poor: the materially poor and the spiritually poor,” the Pope continued.

He reflected on the daily reading from the First Book of Kings, in which King Ahab’s covetousness for the family vineyard of a man named Naboth turned deadly. To acquire the vineyard, Ahab’s wife Jezebel schemed to convict the innocent man with false witnesses, and to execute him by stoning.

Ahab received the stolen vineyard from Jezebel “as though nothing had happened,” Pope Francis said.

Among those who wield power, he said, “this story is continuously repeating itself.”

The Pope said that service to others is “the only way to escape corruption.” He explained that corruption is proud and arrogant, while service “humbles you.”

He offered his Mass for those who are “paying the price for corruption,” voicing prayers for “these martyrs of political corruption, economic corruption, and ecclesiastical corruption.”

“May the Lord bring us closer to them.”


Voices

In our time

Archbishop José H. Gomez

As I write, I’ve just read the sad news that 90 Christians have been kidnapped from two villages in Syria. Of course we were all shocked earlier this month by the news that 21 Coptic Christians were executed in Syria — killed, as Pope Francis said, “for the mere fact of being Christians.” 

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