Pope Francis: Baptized Christians Must Actively Oppose the ‘Culture of Death’

A priest baptizes a baby in a church in Tourcoing, northern France, on July 21, 2013. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty

Pope Francis told a large crowd of young people Sunday that their baptism obliges them to become active agents of good and to oppose the reigning “culture of death.”

“Renouncing evil means saying ‘no’ to temptation, to sin, to Satan. More concretely it means to saying ‘no’ to a culture of death,” Francis told some 90,000 mostly young people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

The “culture of death” is an expression coined by the late Saint John Paul II to describe the modern mentality that supports abortion, euthanasia, and the destruction of the weak under the guise of freedom and “choice.”

Today’s situation, John Paul wrote in 1995, “ought to make us all fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life.’”

“We find ourselves not only ‘faced with’ but necessarily ‘in the midst of’ this conflict,” he wrote, and “we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”

Pope Francis picked up on this message Sunday, urging his hearers not only to avoid evil themselves, but to actively do good.

“Christians cannot be hypocrites but must live with consistently, Pope Francis said, noting that baptismal promises have two aspects: “renouncing evil and adhering to the good.”

“Avoiding evil is not enough to be a good Christian,” Francis continued. “You must adhere to the good and do the good.”

“So many times we can hear somebody say, ‘I don’t hurt anyone.’ And he thinks he’s a saint.” The pope said. “Okay, but what good do you do? How many people do not do evil, but neither do they do good, and they live their lives in indifference, apathy, and lukewarmness.”

This attitude of apathy “is contrary to the gospel,” he said, citing a maxim from Saint Alberto Hurtado: “It is good not to do evil, but it is evil not to do good.”

“If we do not oppose evil, we feed it in tacitly. It is necessary to intervene where evil spreads; Because evil spreads where there are no daring Christians to oppose with good,” he said.

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