Pope Francis has asked people to keep their ill-gotten gains for themselves rather than trying to calm their conscience by a giving a piece of it to the Church, insisting that the People of God have no need of “dirty money.”
Speaking off the cuff in his General Audience Wednesday, and raising his voice in evident irritation, the Pope said that “some benefactors of the Church come forward with their donation — ‘take this for the Church’ — but this offering is the fruit of the blood of so many exploited, mistreated, enslaved, underpaid people!”
“I will say to these people, ‘Please, take back your check, burn it!’” he said.
Though almsgiving is a common “good work” considered especially appropriate during the Lenten season, Francis said that it must be done with a pure heart.
“The People of God, that is, the Church, does not need dirty money; it needs hearts open to mercy,” he said.
The Pope’s spontaneous words followed on a reading from the Prophet Isaiah, speaking of God’s displeasure with impure sacrifices, “the blood of calves, lambs and goat,” especially if the offering is made with hands sullied with the blood of one’s brothers.
At the Pope’s words, the people in Saint Peter’s Square erupted in applause, after which Francis continued: “And it is necessary to draw closer to God with hands cleansed, avoiding evil and practicing good and justice.”
“Cease doing evil; learn to do good,” Francis said, quoting the Prophet. “Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.”
Then, Francis concluded, “though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool.”
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