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Pope Francis: 'Pagan' Christians 'in Name Only' are 'Enemies of the Cross'

Pope Francis: 'Pagan' Christians 'in Name Only' are 'Enemies of the Cross'

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Not all those who claim to be Christians really are, said Pope Francis Friday morning. Some are Christians “in name only,” he said. “They bear the name of Christians but live a life of pagans.”

In his homily at Mass, the Pope that there have always been two types of Christian, those who truly followed Christ and those who only pretended to. At the time of Saint Paul, there were “worldly Christians, Christians in name only, with two or three Christian features, but nothing more.” The Pope called this sort of people “Pagan Christians,” whom St. Paul called “enemies of the cross of Christ.”

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In Paul’s time, the Pope said, the two groups of Christians “were in church together, went to Mass on Sunday, praised the Lord, and were called Christians.” So what was the difference? He asked. The second were “enemies of the cross of Christ.”

The Pope went on to say that “even today there are many! We must be careful not to slip into the way of pagan Christians.” These are the ones, he said, who are “pagans painted over with two brush strokes of Christianity, so they look like Christians, but are really pagans.”

According to Francis, we all run the risk of becoming “Christians in appearance.” We are tempted, he said, to mediocrity, and when Christians become mediocre, “it is their ruin, because the heart cools and they become lukewarm.” Francis reminded his hearers that Jesus used strong language to describe this sort of Christians: “Because you are lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” These, the Pope said, “are enemies of the cross of Christ. They take the name of Christian, but do not follow the requirements of the Christian life.”

The Pope suggested that there are questions we can ask ourselves to know what sort of Christians we are. He said that all of us—the Pope included—need to ask ourselves: “How much worldliness is in me? How much paganism?”

Even more specifically, the Pope asked: “Do I like to brag? Do I like money? Do I like my pride, my arrogance? Where are my roots, and where is my citizenship? In heaven or on earth?”

“If you love money and are attached to it, if you love vanity and pride, you are headed down a bad road,” he said. If, instead, he continued, “you try to love God and serve others, if you are gentle, if you are humble, if you are the servant of others, you are on the right path. Your citizenship is in heaven.”


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