VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Christianity becomes an ideology rather than a faith based on a relationship with God, its followers become proud and rigid, Pope Francis said.

When Christianity becomes an ideology, “Jesus isn’t there, nor is his tenderness, love and meekness. And ideologies are always rigid, always,” the pope said Oct. 17 in a homily at his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

According to a Vatican Radio report on the homily, Pope Francis said that ideological Christians are “rigid, moralists, ethicists, but without goodness.”


“When a Christian becomes a disciple of an ideology, he has lost his faith; he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, but of this way of thinking,” the pope said.

Pope Francis was commenting on the day’s Gospel reading from Luke (11:47-54) in which Jesus admonishes the scribes and Pharisees for trying to control the faith rather than live it and share it with others.

The Gospel reading included the line: “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.”

Pope Francis said when Christianity is an ideology rather than a faith built on a living relationship with the Lord, “knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and moralistic knowledge.”

The ideologues close the door to faith with all their rules, he said.

“The key that opens the door of faith is prayer,” he said. “I am talking about praying, not saying prayers,” because the Pharisees recited many prayers in public simply to be seen. Jesus warned his disciples not to follow their example because prayer should be a “heart-to-heart” meeting with the Lord.

Pope Francis said the “poor” Pharisees were “people sullied by pride. Let’s ask the Lord for the grace first of all to never stop praying in order not to lose faith, but also to remain humble.”