Pope Francis Warns Against Idolatry of Money in the Church at Mass

Pope Francis on Friday urged that churches be given due respect as the “house of God” and not be transformed into markets or social lounges dominated by “worldliness”.   Celebrating his morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, he warned that churches risked transforming themselves into marketplaces with sacraments on sale, which are free.

He was reflecting the Gospel reading on the feast of the Dedication of Rome’s St. John Lateran Basilica, where Jesus cleanses the temple of Jerusalem of all buyers and sellers, warning them against turning his Father’s house into a marketplace.   

Idols enslave
Jesus noted that the temple was populated by idolaters - men ready to serve "money" instead of "God". "Behind money there is an idol,” the Pope said, adding idols are always of gold that enslaves. Pope Francis wondered if we treat our  “temples, our churches” as the house of God, the house of prayer, a place of meeting the Lord, and whether the priests treat it like that.

The Pope recalled instances of a price list for the sacraments that are free of cost. To those who argue that it is an offering, the Pope said, offerings are to be put secretly into the box without anyone noticing it.  He warned that there is this danger even today.Pope Francis admitted the Church needs to be maintained by the faithful but this is done in the offering box, not with a price list. 

Another danger that the Pope warned against was the temptation of worldliness.  He noted that in some celebrations or commemorations in the Church one cannot make out if the house of God is a place of worship or a social parlour. The Pope said that some church celebrations slip into worldliness.  Celebrations must be beautiful but not worldly, because, he said, worldliness depends on the god of money.  He called this idolatry and said it should make us think about our zeal for our churches and the respect that we give when we enter them.   

Heart – the temple of God
Pope Francis then drew attention to the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians which speaks about our hearts as the temple of God.  Despite our sinfulness, the Pope said, each one of us should ask ourselves whether our hearts are "worldly and idolatrous".The Holy Father said it is not the question of what our sins are, but of finding out if there is the lord of money within us.   If there is a sin, he said, we have the Lord, the merciful God, who forgives if we go to Him.  But if there is other lord, the god money, we are an idol worshipper, a corrupt person, and not a former sinner.The Pope concluded saying the core of corruption is precisely an idolatry, of having sold one’s soul to the god of money, to the god of power.

Pope to German journalists: 'Thanks for focusing on people'
A group of students and faculty from the Institute for the Promotion of Young Journalists (IFP) in Germany celebrating the 50th anniversary of its foundation, met in audience with Pope Francis on Friday. The Pope thanked them for their commitment to forming journalists and said that Germany is fortunate to have so many professionally trained Catholic journalists.

Germany is fortunate
“A warm welcome to all of you” Pope Francis began.  The Pope then thanked the Institute’s Directors as well as all the faculty, alumni, friends and supporters—past and present—who founded and sustained it through it’s 50 years of existence. “Germany can consider itself fortunate,” he said, ”knowing that there are many IFP graduates among the many journalists, that is, both in the secular and ecclesial media.”

Christian journalism
Pope Francis then reminded those present that a Christian journalist stands out for positive attitudes and professional ethics. It is a commitment, he said, rather than just a job.

Words of gratitude
“Thank you,” the Pope concluded, “because as journalists you focus on people and call unjust what is unjust. Thank you because you also speak about the beautiful things that put people at the center that perhaps appear less on the front page. Thank you because with your Christian style you accompany the work of the Church. I hope you will continue to do a journalism by the people, for the people. And, please, don't forget to pray for me.”

About the Institute for the Promotion of Young Journalists
The IFP is a Catholic school of journalism in Germany. It provides training in order to form critically minded journalists who will reflect Christian ethical principles in their professional work. Many IFP alumni have interned for Vatican News, and its predecessor, Vatican Radio.