Pope Francis: Spiritual Worldliness Is the ‘Worst Thing’ that Can Happen to the Church

Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican
TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — Pope Francis warned against “spiritual worldliness” Saturday, insisting that it is the worst thing that can happen to the Church.

Speaking to a group of discalced Carmelite friars in the Vatican, the pope said that contemporary men and women are “deeply thirsty for God and for what is eternal” and “search for him everywhere,” sometimes without realizing it.

To find true spirituality, however, people must avoid the trap of “psychologisms, spiritualisms, or false accommodations that conceal a spirit of worldliness,” he said.

“Beware of spiritual worldliness,” the pontiff stressed, “which is the worst thing that can happen to the Church.”

“What is this spiritual worldliness? It is very subtle. It is very subtle. It gets inside us without our noticing it,” he proceeded.

Quoting the French Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac, Francis said that spiritual worldliness is “even worse than the times of the concubinary popes.”

“Spiritual worldliness is terrible. It gets inside you,” the pope insisted. “There it is in the gospel, when Jesus speaks of ‘well-mannered demons’ and ‘well-mannered devils.’”

“When an unclean spirit has been driven away from a person’s soul, it begins to wander through deserted places and then ‘gets bored’ and ‘has no work,’” the pope said, loosely interpreting a passage from Saint Luke’s gospel.

The demon returns to the house where it was and finding everything clean and tidied it goes and finds seven other spirits more wicked than itself and the man’s final situation is worse than the first, the pope noted.

“But how do these seven demons enter?” Francis asked. “Not like thieves, no: They ring the bell, say hello, and enter little by little. They go in little by little, and you don’t realize that they have taken possession of your house.”

“This is the spirit of worldliness,” he said.

If the coronavirus pandemic has “produced anything good — and it certainly has — it is precisely to bring us back to the essential, not to live distracted by false securities,” he stated.


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