Pope Francis Warns Against Consulting ‘Horoscopes and Fortune-Tellers’

The Vatican and China do not maintain diplomatic relations, but since becoming head of the Holy See in 2013 Pope Francis has tried to mend ties with Beijing in the hope of reconnecting with Catholics in China
AFP Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI

When Christians seek guidance from horoscopes and fortune-tellers rather than “holding fast to the Word of the Lord,” that’s when problems start, Pope Francis told a group of pilgrims in the Vatican Sunday.

During his weekly Angelus message in Saint Peter’s Square, the Pope reflected on the gospel reading of the day, which describes Jesus walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee and Saint Peter’s attempt to do the same.

The boat carrying the twelve apostles “was being tossed about by the waves” when Jesus came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the water they thought he was a ghost, but he said to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is really you, command me to come to you on the water,” at which Jesus said to him, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus, but when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened and began to sink, crying out, “Lord, save me!” At this point Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Reflecting on Peter’s hesitation, Pope Francis said that something similar can happen to Christians who turn away from Jesus to seek salvation elsewhere. At that moment, Francis said, “the sure word of Jesus wasn’t enough for Peter” to confront the hostile and turbulent waters. “This is what can happen to us as well,” Francis continued. “When you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but consult horoscopes and fortune-tellers for more security, you start sinking. This means that faith is not strong enough.”

Under the Roman noonday sun, Pope Francis said that the situation faced by the apostles resembled the life of Christians throughout the centuries, and in the present day as well.

This episode, Francis said, “is a wonderful image of the reality of the Church throughout time: a boat that, during its voyage, has to face headwinds and tempests that threaten to overwhelm it.”

What saves her, he continued, is not “the courage and the qualities of her men” but rather “faith in Christ and in his word.”

He urged his hearers to stand firm in the faith in order to weather life’s storms, staying aboard the boat of the Church and “fleeing the temptation to climb aboard the enticing but untrustworthy boats of ideologies, fashions and slogans.”

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