Francis decries ‘pagan Christians,’ who go to church, but don’t put God first


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — People who go to church on Sundays, but spend the rest of the week cultivating their attachment to money, power and pride are “pagan Christians,” Pope Francis said.

When St. Paul wrote his Letter to the Philippians, the Christian community was composed of two groups, real Christians and those who were “enemies of the cross of Christ,” the pope said Nov. 7 during his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta where he lives.

“Both groups were in the church together, they went to Sunday Mass, praised the Lord and called themselves Christians,” he said, according to Vatican Radio. But some of them were “worldly Christians, Christians in name only, with two or three Christian characteristics, but nothing more. Pagan Christians!”

Today, the pope said, “there are many of these. And we, too, must be careful not to slip” into being Christians in name only. Being half-hearted Christians, “accustomed to mediocrity” is a danger for all, he said.

In the day’s first reading, Philippians 3:17-4:1, St. Paul speaks of true Christians having their “citizenship” in heaven, the pope said, while “pagan Christians” are full citizens of the world.

The way for someone to check their spiritual nationality, he said, is to ask some questions: “Do I like to brag? Do I like money? Do I like pride?”

Or, he said, “Do you try to love God and serve others? If you are meek, if you are humble, if you are a servant of others, then you are on the right path. Your citizenship papers are in order and they are from heaven.”