ROME — Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned religious hypocrisy, insisting it can destroy the faith of entire generations.
Speaking to crowds gathered at the Vatican for his weekly general audience, the pontiff reflected on the biblical figure of an elderly scribe named Eleazar, who was ordered by the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes to betray his Jewish faith by eating pork, on pain of death. death. .
Even some of Eleazar’s friends urged him to pretend to eat pork while actually eating other meat to save his life. Eleazar refused, saying that “many of the youth might suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year had gone over to a strange religion, and on my pretense, for the sake of living a little while longer, they would be led astray by me, while profane and dishonor my old age.”
In Wednesday’s address, Pope Francis praised Eleazar as “a wonderful character” who witnessed “the special relationship that exists between the fidelity of old age and the honor of faith.”
The honor of the faith “periodically comes under pressure, even violently, from the culture of the rulers,” Francis said, “who seek to degrade it by treating it like an archaeological find, or an old superstition, an anachronistic fetish, etc. on.”
The king’s officials advised Eleazar to resort to a pretext, that is, to pretend to eat the meat without actually doing so, which was a “hypocritical way out,” the pope noted.
“Hypocrisy. Religious hypocrisy. There’s so much! There’s so much religious hypocrisy, clerical hypocrisy, there’s so much,” he said. “These people tell you, ‘Be a little hypocritical, no one will notice.'”
However, dishonoring the faith in old age, to win a handful of days, “cannot be compared to the legacy that must be left to the young, for entire generations to come,” Francis said, praising “the perseverance of this man who considers the young man!”
This is the beautiful and irreplaceable role of the elderly, he affirmed, because it upholds faith as a supreme value worth giving one’s life for.
“An elder who, out of his vulnerability, accepts that the practice of faith is irrelevant, would lead young people to believe that faith has no real relationship to life,” he said. “It would appear to them, from the outset, as a set of behaviors that, if necessary, they can fake or hide, because none of them is especially important for life.”
Pope Francis told Christian students that they should respect people of other religions and not try to convert them to Christianity. https://t.co/OPU2xvFjFD
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) December 22, 2019
In many sectors of society, “the practice of faith suffers from a negative image, sometimes in the form of cultural irony, sometimes with covert marginalization,” Francis said, for which the practice of faith is considered “useless and even harmful”, something old-fashioned or a “disguised superstition”.
“Perhaps it is up to us older people – and there are still some here – to restore honor to faith, make it consistent, which is Eleazar’s testimony: consistency to the end,” he reflected. “The practice of faith is not the symbol of our weakness, no, but the sign of its strength.”