Pope Francis recently criticized Catholics leading a “double life,” those who proudly boast they are “very Catholic” yet fail to pay their workers a fair wage. In his daily morning Mass, the pontiff denounced such hypocrisy, noting “to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.”
The Pope has been critical of businesses who fail to pay a just wage, while the upper level managers and administrators live lavish lifestyles, even as their business is failing.
What the pope was reacting to was the inconsistency of many Catholics who claim Catholicism but fail to follow consistently all the Catholic teachings. He was critical of those who seem to believe that if we do at least a few things, that is good enough. In the past, he has been critical of those who claim to be Catholics denouncing and protesting abortion, while at the same time showing minimal concern for other pro-life issues such as respecting the lives of immigrants, the poor and the homeless among the many life issues.
It is not enough to claim the high road on one or two Catholic moral issues, a Catholic must be consistent. Cardinal Bernadine called it “a consistent life ethic,” which means to be consistently aware and resist all the ways life is threatened.
His message is more than just about morality, it is about the daily lives of Catholics — how a Catholic deals with their participation and membership in a parish, whether they support the parish or whether they even make the commitment to join a parish.
The example I gave our Religious Education students recently concerning this was…suppose you claim to be a member of the Carlisle football team, yet you don’t go to practice, you don’t go to the games, you don’t participate in any of the meetings, but you claim to be a member of the Carlisle football team. This would make no sense and we would never consider joining a team or taking a job without following the guidelines and rules of the team or company. Besides, you would likely not be on that team for long nor continue to be employed in that job.
It is the old saying, “don’t tell me you’re a Catholic, show me you’re a Catholic”.
The essence of what the Pope is getting at is that to be a Catholic you must work to practice the faith in all areas of your life and not just some. Granted it is not easy and at times some areas of your Catholic life may need more attention than others, but not at the exclusion of or ignoring the rest.
Being a disciple of Jesus was hard 2000 years ago and so it is today. Those who continued to follow Jesus accepted all what Jesus said and not just some.