VATICAN CITY — The day after he was elected, Pope Francis emphasized that every believer — including bishops, cardinals and popes — must proclaim Jesus crucified to be true Christians.
“We can build so many things, but if we don’t confess Jesus Christ, then something is wrong. We will become a pitiful NGO [non-governmental organization], but not the Church, spouse of Christ,” Pope Francis said in his March 14 homily.
“He who doesn’t pray to God prays to the devil,” the Pope added in an apparent quote.
Pope Francis made his remarks at the Mass to close the conclave on Thursday evening in the Sistine Chapel, with all of the cardinal electors present.
He asserted that the common theme to all three of the day’s Scripture readings “is movement: the first reading, the movement of walking; the second reading, the movement of building; and the third, the Gospel, is in confession. To walk, to build, to confess."
“But, it’s not such an easy thing,” he noted.
“In walking, in building, in confession, sometimes there are shocks; there are movements, moments that are not proper to our journey. They are movements that drag us backwards.”
Pope Francis then turned his thoughts to the Gospel reading from Matthew in which Peter confesses Jesus is the Christ.
“This is the same Peter who confesses to Christ, who says, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let’s not speak of crosses! This has nothing to do with it. I will follow you with other possibilities, without the cross,’” he said, characterizing Peter’s reaction.
“And, if we walk without the cross, how much do we build without the cross? And, when we confess Christ without the cross, then we are not disciples of the Lord.”
The Pope then applied his words to himself and his brother cardinals, saying, “We might be bishops, priests, cardinals and popes, but we are not disciples of the Lord” if we leave the cross behind.
“I would like all of us, after these days of grace, to have the courage, precisely the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the cross of the Lord, to edify the Church in the blood of the Lord poured out on the cross and to confess the only glory, that of Christ crucified. And, in this way, the Church will move forward,” he said as he finished his homily.
Pope Francis’ next event will be a congratulatory meeting with all of the cardinals, both those who are retired and those who are still active, at 11am Friday, March 15, in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.
On Saturday morning, he will hold an audience with journalists and media personnel in the Paul VI hall, as his predecessors did.
Pope Francis will pray the Angelus and make remarks from the window of his apartment at noon on Sunday.
He will be installed as Pope at a Mass on March 19 at 9:30am in St. Peter’s Square.