Pope Francis has hit out at hypocrisy among Church leaders, saying that 'pastors with double lives' act as 'a wound in the Church'.
Pastors who preach one thing and do another are harmful and, like the scribes and Pharisees of old, they end up leading a double life when they detach themselves from God and his people, the Pope said in his sermon yesterday during Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican.
'Jesus is clear in this: "Do what they say" – they speak the truth – "but not what they do,"' the Pope said, according to the Catholic Herald. 'It is awful to see pastors with double lives: it is a wound in the Church.'
The Pope was reflecting on the day's Gospel reading from St Mark in which Jesus astonishes the crowd by his preaching because he taught 'them as one having authority and not as the scribes'.
Francis said that the same authority is with today's pastors when they are 'close to God in prayer and close to the people'.
However, he added that those who are detached from God and the people have become 'sick pastors who have lost their authority' and are incapable of preaching salvation to others.
'Jesus is very firm with them,' Pope Francis said. 'He not only tells the people to listen to them but not to do what they do, but what does he say to [the scribes]? He calls them "whitened sepulchres" – beautiful in doctrine on the outside but inside, putrid. This is what happens to the pastor who is not close to God in prayer and with the people in compassion.'
The Pope commented on the day's first reading – in which Eli gives a prophetic word of comfort to Hannah despite his own failures as a father and a high priest – saying that there is still hope for pastors whose lives are detached from God and from the people.
He said that for Eli, 'it was enough to look, to come close to a woman, to listen to her and awaken the authority to bless her and prophesy'.
He added: 'Authority is a gift from God; it comes only from him. If a pastor loses it, at least do not lose hope like Eli. There is always time to be close and awaken this authority and prophecy.'