VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The root of all evil lies in greed, pride and vanity, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

Vanity, in fact, compels people to hide their mistakes and cover up what’s real with a facade, he said Sept. 22 during an early morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

All that masquerading “sickens the soul,” he said. “Vanity is like osteoporosis of the soul, the bones on the outside look good, but inside they are all ruined.”


Reflecting on the day’s readings, the pope talked about the fruitless path of vanity (Eccl 1:2-11) and Herod’s growing anxiety and worry about being usurped (Lk 9:7-9).

There is a healthy kind of unease the Holy Spirit causes to prompt people to do what is right and good, he said. But then there is a bad kind of unease, like Herod the Great and his son, Herod Antipas, experienced, which “stems from a dirty conscience.”

The two king Herods tried to relieve their apprehensions by killing people, the pope said, going forward “over people’s dead bodies.”

People who do evil and have a bad conscience “cannot live in peace because they live with a constant itch, with hives that don’t leave them in peace,” he said.

All evil is rooted in “greed, vanity and pride,” which continually irritate the conscience, cause fear and never leave any room for that healthy unease from the Holy Spirit, the pope said.

Like scam artists who “mark the cards” to score a win, albeit fake, the vain person lives a life of fakery and appearances.

Everybody knows someone like that, the pope said: people who seem perfect on the outside, going to church every Sunday and making big charitable donations.

While there are real saints out there, he said, there are people putting on a show, who have the face of a saint, but inside suffer from an “osteoporosis” of corruption.

The pope said to remember that Jesus is the only truth, “not the masquerade of vanity. May the Lord free us from these three roots of all evil.”