Pope: the Church is not a rental house, but a home

Pope Francis addresses pilgrims during his Wednesday General Audience on April 23, 2014. Credit: Kyle Burkhart/CNA.

Pope Francis focused his daily homily on Jesus’ prayer for the unity of his disciples, cautioning that there are many in the Church who call themselves Catholic, but are only half committed.

There are some groups that “rent the Church, but do not claim it as their home” the Pope observed during his June 5 daily Mass, stating that the Church “is not a house to rent” but rather “is a home to live in.”

Centering his reflections on Jesus’ prayer in John’s Gospel that “all might be one,” the Roman Pontiff explained that there are many people who appear to have “1 foot inside” the Church and 1 foot out, so that they can have “the possibility of being in both places” at once.

Drawing attention to the different mentalities that fuel this attitude, the Bishop of Rome noted that one group is what he called the “uniformists.”

“Uniformity, rigidity – these are hard. They do not have the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives” he said, adding that “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.”

Bringing to mind a second group, Pope Francis explained that there are “alternativists” in the Church who remain attached to their own ideas and refuse to conform their own minds to the mind of the Church.

“(They) enter the Church, but with this idea, with that ideology, and so their membership in the Church is partial” he observed, saying that “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.”

Going on, the Roman Pontiff noted that there is a third group who refuses to fully embrace the Church, which he termed the “exploitationists” that “’seek the benefits’ and go to church, but for personal benefit.”

“The businessmen. We know them well!” he said, explaining that this group has also been around since the beginning of the Church, and can be seen in the figures of Simon Magus, or Ananias and Sapphira.

Observing how these people “took advantage of the Church for their own profit,” the Pope stated that “we see them in the parish or diocesan community, too, in religious congregations, among some benefactors of the Church – many, eh?”

“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.”

Pope Francis then went on to describe how there is “a great diversity of people and gifts of the Spirit” within the Church, adding that the Lord tells us that “If you would enter the Church, do so out of love” in order “to give all your heart, and not to do business for profit.”

Admitting that to do this is not easy because “the temptations are many,” the pontiff explained that we must trust in the Holy Spirit, who is the only one that can accomplish this “unity in diversity, freedom, generosity.”

“We are all different…we are not the same, thank God” he said, otherwise “Things would be hellish.”

He then called attention to the importance of being docile to the Holy Spirit, noting that this docility “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.”

Bringing his homily to a close, Pope Francis prayed that the Lord “send us the Holy Spirit and may the Spirit make this harmony in our communities: parish communities, diocesan communities, the communities of the (ecclesial) movements.”

“Let it be the Spirit that achieves this harmony, for, as one of the Fathers of the Church said: the Spirit Himself is harmony.”


Intention deficit and its remedies

Father Ed Benioff

I keep coming back to the theme of intentional discipleship. It’s come up in the last two columns I’ve written — and that’s because it comes up repeatedly in my thoughts.


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April 30, 2016

  • Saturday, April 30

    Los Angeles Foster Care & Adoption Info Meeting, 10 a.m. -12 p.m., Children’s Bureau’s Magnolia Place, 1910 Magnolia Ave., Los Angeles. Discover if you have the willingness, ability and resources to take on the challenge of helping a child in need. To RSVP or for more information, call (213) 342-0168 or toll-free 800-730-3933. An information packet or application may be requested by filling out a request form at www.all-kids.org/program/foster-care/.


    Stephen Ministry Introductory Workshop, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., American Martyrs Church (St. Kateri Room), 624 15th St., Manhattan Beach. Session 1: Ministering to Those Experiencing Grief; Session 2: An Introduction to Stephen Ministry; Session 3: How to Care in a Distinctly Christian Way. Cost: $15 per person, or $50 per congregation (four or more). Register at stephenministry.org/workshop or call (314) 428 -2600.

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