Pope Criticizes Religious People Who Focus Too Much on 'Sins of the Flesh'

Pope Criticizes Religious People Who Focus Too Much on 'Sins of the Flesh'

LISBON, Portugal — Pope Francis earlier this month criticized religious people who would rather “look at the so-called ‘sins of the flesh’ with a magnifying glass” than address other sinful behavior like exploiting workers.

The head of the Catholic Church made the statement, among many others, in a wide-ranging conversation at a gathering of Jesuits on Aug. 5 in Lisbon, Portugal, the Crux Now Catholic news website reported.

Francis told the Jesuits that he dislikes it when people “look at the so-called ‘sins of the flesh’ with a magnifying glass, just as we have done for so long for the sixth commandment.”

The sixth commandment, according to the Catholic Church, is “You shall not commit adultery.”

Francis added that for many in the Church he leads, “If you exploited workers, if you lied or cheated, it didn’t matter, and instead ‘sins below the waist’ were relevant.”

The pope made those remarks in the context of being asked questions about whether the Church should be inclusive of LGBTQ+ Catholics.

“There is no discussion about the call being addressed to everyone,” Francis said. “Jesus is very clear about this: Everyone. Everyone has their own space in the Church.” The role of pastors, he added, is to “help people live so that they can occupy that place with maturity, and this applies to all kinds of people.”

The pope also addressed the ubiquity of adult content online, mentioning a previous speech where he had asked some of his priests whether they “watch porn on their phones.”

Francis said one of the priests had remarked that the query revealed how often the pope had taken confessions about that issue.

Francis added that sexual issues used to be taboo, but “Today, thank God, the door is wide open, and there is no reason for problems to remain hidden. If you hide your problems, it is because you choose to do so, but it is not the fault of society, or even your religious community.”

The pope added that he was not afraid of “sexualized society,” but is concerned about “how we relate to it.”

“I am afraid of worldly criteria,” he said, giving as examples “the eagerness to promote oneself, the eagerness to stand out.”

Sharp Warning to U.S. Catholics 'Losing the True Tradition'

During his conversation in Lisbon, Francis also criticized “a very strong reactionary attitude” among many U.S. Catholics.

This attitude, he explained, “is organized and shapes the way people belong, even emotionally.” He called that reactionary attitude “useless” and stated, “We need to understand that there is an appropriate evolution in the understanding of matters of faith and morals.”

U.S. Catholics, according to Francis, are particularly at risk of losing “the true tradition” and instead falling back on ideology. 

“In other words,” he said, “ideology replaces faith, membership of a sector of the Church replaces membership of the Church.”

“Those American groups you talk about, so closed, are isolating themselves,” the pope concluded. “Instead of living by doctrine, by the true doctrine that always develops and bears fruit, they live by ideologies. When you abandon doctrine in life to replace it with an ideology, you have lost, you have lost as in war.”

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