VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Monday warned about corrupt Christians who think they are “strong” and “independent of God,” emphasizing that Catholics should instead take saints as their models.
“How bad are the corrupt in the Christian community! May the Lord deliver us from sliding down this road of corruption,” the Pope said in his June 3 homily during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta residence in Vatican City.
Attendees at the Mass included priests and collaborators of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Cardinal Angelo Amato, who heads the congregation, concelebrated the Mass.
Pope Francis distinguished between saints, sinners and “corrupt persons” in a reflection on the Gospel parable of the wicked tenants in the vineyard. The tenants beat the vineyard owner’s servants who sought to collect rent and ended up killing the owner’s son.
These tenants “slipped on that autonomy, that independence in their relationship with God,” adopting the attitude “We don’t need that Master,” and he shouldn’t come and disturb us, the Holy Father said.
“These are the corrupt! These were sinners like all of us, but they have taken a step beyond that, as if they were confirmed in their sin: They don’t need God!” he added.
But this is a false illusion, he continued, “for in their genetic code, there is this relationship with God. Since they can’t deny this, they make a special god: They themselves are god.”
The Pope said Christians should be mindful of this temptation, warning that “this is a danger for us, too.”
He criticized groups in Christian communities that think only of their own group and are “only out for themselves.”
He said that Judas was a “greedy sinner” who “ended in corruption.”
“The road of autonomy is a dangerous road: The corrupt are very forgetful and have forgotten this love, with which the Lord made the vineyard and has made them. They severed the relationship with this love and become worshippers of themselves.”
By contrast, he said, the saints are those who “collect the rent” at the vineyard, despite the threats to them.
“They know what is expected of them,” he said, and they “do their duty.”
“The saints are those who obey the Lord, those who worship the Lord, those who have not lost the memory of the love with which the Lord has made the vineyard,” Pope Francis explained, adding that the saints do “much good” for the Church.
He noted that St. John said the corrupt are “the Antichrist” and that they are “among us, but they are not of us.” By contrast, Scripture says the saints are “like light” and will be “before the throne of God in adoration.”
The Pope prayed that God would grant Christians the grace to “walk in the paths of holiness” as they seek sanctity in their own lives.