Pope Francis Objects To Rigid Ideology Among Christians

Pope Francis has burst onto the Catholic landscape as a voice of humility and a true adherent to the words of Jesus in the Bible, and ***his latest target involves rigid Christian “ideology” that bears little resemblance to the direction of the Christian messiah.

While Pope Francis has made waves in many ways, a recent Mass, during which*** he struck out at ideological caucuses falling back on Christ,*** became the newest instance of His Holiness disrupting a lot of mainstream Christian doctrine.

The Bible’s New Testament offers up a lot of words from Jesus on how we should live, with many about caring for the sick, needy and poor, and zero about gay marriage and other Evangelical right cause célèbres.

Pope Francis sees you moralizing on the street corner, and he wants you to know he does not approve. His Holiness said:

“The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology***… And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid.”

The Pope continued:

“… when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.”

Pope Francis adds that not only is the embrace of ideology counterproductive, it’s also possibly driving people away from faith. He explains:

“The f***aith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people***, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people… But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”

I am humbly, sincerely, asking for some help here. What is the Pope saying here? isn’t Christianity, by and large, an ideology? Isn’t the Catechism essentially a Re-statement/ declaration of ideology?

Seems to me to be a rather broad brush he has wielded.

Any clarification would be duly appreciated.

^^^just to be clear–I didn’t mean to reduce Christianity to merely an ideology—I fully understand the relationship aspect…but institutionalized Christianity–the Church–how it’s structured…why we believe what we believe…how we apply that to our personal lives…how we view the outside world…imo, these things fall within the ideological aspect of the Church…

…and the Pope refers to it as an illness?

I can’t seem to wrap my mind around it. Again, any light would be very much appreciated.

Where is these quotes or supposéd quotes from? I don’t see a source.


Not an ideology but, according to Pope Benedict in Deus Caritas Est

Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.


Sorry, I seem to have lost that last link. It was from a homily he delivered on Oct 17–hasn’t made the Vat. website yet. Here is another article essentially saying the same thing:

Pope Francis: ‘Becoming A Disciple of Ideology Closes the Door to Faith’
Warns of the Dangers of Ideological Thought in Christianity During Morning Mass

Vatican City, October 17, 2013 (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves | 1526 hits

uring his homily at Mass in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis warned of the danger of “becoming a disciple of ideology” which he said can lead one to lose their faith. The Holy Father based his homily on today’s Gospel which recounts Christ’s warning to the scholars of the law.

“When we go down the path and find in front of us a closed Church, we feel strange because a closed Church is not understood,” the Pope said. “The Lord who is inside cannot come out.” This image of the closed Church, he explained, is given by Jesus in today’s Gospel. The Holy Father also explained why many Christians fall into this “attitude of ‘key in pocket’ and closed door.”

“Faith passes, so to speak, through an alembic (distillery) and becomes an ideology. And ideology does not convene. In ideology there is no Jesus: his tenderness, love, meekness. And ideologies are always rigid,” the Pope said.

“In every sense: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of ideology, they have lost the faith: they are no more a disciple of Jesus, they are a disciple of this attitude of thought, of this…” And for this reason Jesus says to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge’. The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these closed the door with so many requirements.”

The Holy Father continued his homily saying that ideology within the Church only serves to alienate people. “These Christian ideologies are a grave sickness!” he exclaimed. However, he noted, this sickness is not something that is relatively new, but spoken of by the apostles, particularly St. John, during the time of the early Church.

“Christians who lose the faith and prefer ideology become rigid, moralists, ethicists, but without goodness. But this may be the question, no? Why does a Christian become that way? What happens in the heart of that Christian, that priest, of that bishop, of that Pope, that makes them that way. It is simply one thing: that Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you will always close the door.”

Emphasizing the importance of prayer in Christian life, the 76 year old pontiff, saying that without it, a Christian witness becomes a witness full of pride. Ideological Christians, he said, become proud, sure of themselves and lacking humility. The Holy Father however made the distinction of true prayer and the mere recitation of prayers, a distinction made by Christ who rebuked the doctors of the law who prayed so as to be seen. “It is one thing to pray and another to recite prayers,” the Pope said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask the Lord for several graces in avoiding this ideological path. “First, to not cease to pray, to not lose faith, to remain humble. So that we will not become closed, which closes the path to the Lord.”
(October 17, 2013) © Innovative Media Inc.


Excellent quote! :thumbsup:

FWIW: The Knights of Columbus published a pamphlet dedicated to Our Lady of Charity a few years back, and after the Gospel, they had an excerpt from DCE, which contains that quote (actually, if recollection serves, I believe it occurs in almost the first paragraph of DCE…). Anyway, I read that ‘homily’–and therefore that passage–regularly, in my prayers, since I use that particular pamphlet regularly.

Christianity, Catholicism especially, is not meant to be an ideology. It’s a Person, Jesus; it’s about having a relationship with Him; receiving His love and forgiveness; loving Him in return. The Pope is calling on us to remember that, to return to it (which we do in prayer) if we have drifted away from it becoming more absorbed and interested in Christian doctrines and laws than in Jesus Christ Himself. It’s a beautiful talk; read it again from that perspective.

There’s been dissent and dissension in the Church. In battling error, it’s possible to get so caught up in debate that pretty soon that’s where our mind and heart are. The Pope is saying we need to give them back to God.

…here ya’ go…I found it (sorry about not posting link earlier; sipped me mind).


Thank you–it helps. A bit, anyways.

Let me elaborate on my difficulty in understanding it though–Jesus Christ is a person; Christianity is belief system–of Faith. True you cannot have Christianity, or be Christian, without a personal relationship with Christ–but you can’t really have a personal relationship with Christ, without the Church–which is an institution, comprised of a hierarchy, people/believers, etc. (else protestantism would be true).

Our belief in, and adherence to the Church that Christ established, imo, can be accurately described as an ideology.

…hence for the ‘glue’ (i.e. the Papacy) of the Church to be suggesting that that very ‘ideology’ of loyalty to the said Church, is an illness…seems to me to be rather counter-productive.

…or, I’m missing something–hence this thread.

He’s not trying to do away with doctrines/ideology, just have us put them in their proper place and perspective.

As I read Pope Francis’ sermons, he is particularly interested in evangelizing those who have fallen away from the Church either through sin or disbelief - bringing them back to Our Lord. He’s after the sheep who have strayed. He’s after lukewarm Catholics. IMO, he sees that as the biggest crisis in our Church that needs to be addressed. I agree. And he’s after those who have never been brought into the flock. People need to brought to a love and belief in Jesus before they’d even have a reason to believe further doctrines about Him. We cannot be effective evangelizers if we are not on fire with love for Our Lord.

I remember a story about Mother Teresa. She said she had many women who approached and wanted to join her order; they wanted to help the needy; social work. But when they found out that being in the order required 3 hours of prayer daily they turned away. Mother Teresa knew how important prayer was to keep God first. She recognized that even something as good as helping the poor could end up usurping God’s place.


Hello my friend,

Everything means something.
God never spoke in vain as the Israelite Scriptures testify.
Whether he promised good or evil (for evil doings) he brought it to pass.

[1] Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ,
according to the faith (in the Father and the Son) of God’s elect,
and the acknowledging of the truth which is after >> Godliness;

[8] And >> a highway shall be there, and a way,
and it shall be called The way of >> holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it (restricted); but it shall be for those:
the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

[49] Jesus (the LORD from Heaven) stretched forth his hand toward his disciples and said,
Behold my mother and my brethren!
[50] For whosoever shall >> do the will (common obedience), of my Father who is in heaven,
the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (God finds family in human)

[13] You are the salt of the earth but if the salt has lost his savor (flavor),
wherewith shall it be salted (re-salted/ re-flavored)?
It is thenceforth good for nothing (useless to God),
but to be >> cast out,
and to be >> trodden under foot of men.
[14] You are the light of the world.
A city that is set (located) on a hill cannot be hid.

Who is keeping and setting the standards?
To whom is Jesus going to say :’Well done my good and faithful servant?’

1 John.5
[3] For this (verification) is the love of/ for God (Jesus),
that we (Israelites) keep his commandments
and his commandments are >> not grievous.

Christianity is not a religion.

It is GOD in man as he was in Christ or even king David and the Prophets

Seek and ye shall find.

Christians are on team with GOD ad his Son.

The best to all.

I read it differently in that Pope Francis was warning us to put Jesus first and not concentrate obsessively on things such as one moral issue so much so that we exclude Jesus. Or to get so caught up in a Church issue such as whether mass should be EF or OF and again, sideline Jesus. He is warning that if we are not careful, we may allow something like that to erode our faith and then we become like the pharisees who were careful to be seen rattling off prayers and following the motions. The Pharisees cared more about the public display than heartfelt loving prayers.

On an aside, when I see children singing a hymn with total sincerity, the tears some to my eyes my heart is moved (I love every flat note). I don’t get that way with many beautiful renditions from a lot of adult choirs who rehearsed the hymn so much, they lost the love and faith.

Pope Francis isn’t saying that we should give up caring about a moral issue or the mass, but rather that we first and foremost concentrate on Jesus and our faith. When I think about it, I realise that some people get very caught up in something and start on the foundation of Jesus, faith and the teachings of the Church. But the issue becomes greater in their minds than the teachings of the Church (and therefore Jesus), the foundation starts cracking and true faith starts to diminish. Next thing we see is someone within the Church preaching against the Word of God e.g. advocating abortion, contraception, euthanasia etc etc or stirring up discord within a community.

It seems more like a request to pause, reflect and go back to Jesus, get the love for and of, Christ back into the heart of life. When refreshed and renewed, with Jesus at the center, then carry on, fighting the good fight with love. It seems to me that the love and faith that we live, breath and speak is the “Christ-light” that will draw sinners to repent and turn to Jesus.

Well that is how I read it. One thing I am learning is that Pope Francis’ homilies need meditating on.

In this case I don’t see reaching out those on the edges of Catholicism but rather a sort of rebuke to many of us who would describe ourselves as faithful, orthodox, practicing Catholics.

The message, if I understand it, seems to be that an overly intellectual and controversy-driven approach to the faith, separated from a meaningful prayer life, distorts the faith to the point that it is no longer even the faith. We become self-righteous apologists for a particular philosophy instead of disciples and messengers of Jesus Christ. The philosophy we advance may be entirely correct, but it has been “distilled” from the real thing to use the Pope’s metaphor. The problem is not what is in it, but what is lacking from it: love, prayer, humility, patience. We need a fully constituted faith, not an intellectual concentrate of it.

It’s a challenging message for me personally, but it’s a good one.

Christianity is not an ideology, it’s a relationship.

I agree.

I found this section from the plane interview after WYD very revealing about Pope Francis’ stance. It should reassure those who are concerned that he is out to change Church moral teachings.


Patricia Zorzan: (Originally in Spanish)
Speaking in the name of the Brazilians, society has changed, young people have changed, and we see many young people in Brazil. You have spoken to us about abortion, matrimony between persons of the same sex. In Brazil, they have passed a law which broadens the right to abortion and has allowed marriage between persons of the same sex. Why didn’t you speak about this?

Pope Francis: (Originally in Spanish)
**The Church has already expressed herself perfectly on this. It wasn’t necessary to return to it, **just as I did not speak about fraud or lies or other things about which the Church has a clear doctrine.

Patricia Zorzan: (Originally in Spanish)
But it’s an issue that interests young people …

Pope Francis (Originally in Spanish)
Yes, but it wasn’t necessary to talk about that, but about the positive things that open the way to youngsters. Isn’t that right? Also, young people know what the position of the Church is perfectly well.

In the New Testament – Jesus Christ was the teacher – the people followed Him – followed His teachings / example. Thus, Christianity is a ‘life-style’. And prayer is our communicating with God. We have His Word in Print So - He - God the Father is telling us what He wants us to do – yes – a personal relationship we can have through Jesus Christ.
So – apparently the question is – are we to be following a ‘set of rules, regulations’ and thinking 'how good I am.-- I’m busy doing all these good things to be ‘seen by others/ God’? Or out of love for God / wanting to please Him in our lives.:slight_smile:

The original source from the Vatican News Agency deserves to be read in its entirety. Only then can one filter out the bias in secondary sources.

And as for the message in the original source - come on, people, this isn’t rocket science. The Pope is exhorting us to have a vital prayer life. Duh! :doh2:

Some people, in the name of Catholicism, just promote an ethical or political system, often based on the values of the world and in contradiction to the faith of the Church. Jesus is rarely, if ever, mentioned, not to mention encouraging people to love Him and seek His forgiveness for their sins for the salvation of their souls.

Such folks are often so rigid about their ideological positions, they will not change them even if the CDF tells them they are in error or even if the Pope judges their position definitively an error.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.