Pope Francis: Rigidity is a sign of a weak heart

(Vatican Radio) The day’s Gospel reading, which relates how the chief priests asked Jesus by what authority He did His works, was the focus of the Pope’s homily on Monday. It is a demand, the Pope explained, that demonstrates the “hypocritical heart” of those people – people who were not interested in the truth, who sought only their own interests, and went where the wind blew: you should go this way, you should go that way…” They were weathervanes, all of them! All of them! Without consistency. A heart without consistency. And so they negotiated everything: they negotiated interior freedom, they negotiated the faith, they negotiated their county, everything except appearances.” To such people, getting the best out of every situation was the important thing. They were opportunists: “They profited from the situations.”

“And yet,” the Pope continued, “some of you might ask me: ‘But Father, these people were observers of the law: on Saturday they didn’t travel more than a hundred metres – or however many they were able to go – they never, never sat down to eat without washing their hands and making their ablutions; they were a very observant people, very secure in their habits.’ Yes, it’s true – but only in appearance. They were strong, but on the outside. They were in a cast. The heart was very week, they didn’t know what they believed. And because of this their life, the outer part of their life, was completely regulated, but the heart was otherwise: a weak heart, and a skin that was plastered over, strong, harsh. Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us that the Christian should have a strong heart, a firm heart, a heart built on the rock, that is Christ; and then, in the way it goes out, it goes out with prudence: ‘In this case, I do this, but…’ It is the way of going out, but the heart is not negotiable, the rock is not negotiable. The rock is Christ, it is not negotiable”:

“This is the drama of the hypocrisy of this people. And Jesus never negotiates His heart of the Son of the Father, but He was so open to the people, seeking paths to help them. ‘But this can’t be done; our discipline, our doctrine say this can’t be done!’ they say. ‘Why do your disciples eat grain in the fields, when they travel, on the day of the Sabbath? It can’t be done!’ They were so rigid in their discipline: ‘No, the discipline can’t be touched, it’s sacred.’”


No one gets to rest on their laurels with this pope! The old saying “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable” comes to mind. This shepherd seems intent on giving his flock a cardio work-out.

Or it may be that the press is following him everywhere and looking for something to hurl at the more conservative.

That may be true, but this link is from Vatican Radio, not one of the strictly secular news sources.

And liberals can be rigid too, in thinking they know what is best. A challenge for all of us.

I agree. The “weathervane” comment could very well describe many on the liberal end of things. He is talking to all Christians (well Catholics specifically), not a subset.

The OP posted three paragraphs of straight quotes right out of the pope’s mouth from his homily, aired on Vatican Radio and published on the Vatican Radio website, reported by the Official Vatican Network.

How do you turn that into criticizing the media?

Or, are you meaning to say the Vatican’s own media office is following the pope around, trying to find something the pope might say to insult conservatives?

The pope talks about rigidity being a sign of a weak heart; he means of all people. It can be a flaw of conservatives and liberals and everyone in-between and outside those labels.

The Vatican media has not interpreted it here as an insult to conservatives, and there is no reason for anyone else to.

People on this site often complain that secular media misinterprets the pope’s words and press releases coming out of the Vatican. If so, they are not the only ones. Many theists on this site do, as well.

This would be an example of it.


Who do you think the Pope was talking about when he is referencing rigidity in the christian community? I don’t think he meant the liberal wing which doesn’t get described as rigid usually. He probably meant the same rigid people who made such a commotion during the synod probably (conservatives).

Well then, could you give me an example of where things have been spun, if that’s the right word, to insult the more progressive elements lately? I don’t watch them anymore but when I used to watch MSNBC, I noted there wasn’t five minutes gone by without them praising the Pope in some way.

Liberalism has its rigid dogmas. In liberalism there is zero tolerance for any disagreement with them on abortion, euthanasia, global warming, fetal stem cell research, and so-called “same-sex marriage.” Anyone who disagrees with liberals on any of these is labeled as a stupid bigot. And the biggest litmus test for liberal politicians on nominees to the Supreme court is that they must pose no threat to Roe vs. Wade. If there’s any sign that the nominee will not agree with Roe vs. Wade the liberals launch a relentless smear campaign against him or her in the mainstream media.

This is challenging to me, as a relatively conservative Catholic in some respects. Is my heart where my Sunday service is? I serve at the altar at the local Anglican Use parish. But is my heart really in it? Do I really know what I am doing, or why? Yes, I debate with atheists. Well and good. But is my heart converted? I don’t think it is, not sufficiently. I have a mottled heart, a mix of all manner of sin and love, all together. A heart divided.

But lest any liberal think he can get away with nothing on him, while we’re called to have a solid heart, not a weak one, do remember who said the Pharisees were right in the tithing and the washing - He did not say they were wrong in so doing, but in “neglecting the weightier matters of the law”. We need both. Justice and mercy first, yes, but not to the exclusion of a form, of the “lighter” things of the law. Our hearts are supposed to be the source of our strength, inside and out. Our skin must also be strong.

Love this pope , such a free thinker about topics such as abortion and homosexuality
, divorce and beyond . He is making Catholicism a big tent

I love it. Music to my ears. And I do believe we all are guilty. You fall into rigidity when you freeze yourself into your “conservative” or “liberal” Catholicism/Christianity. Even start finding ways that this admonishment applies exclusively to the other side - first clue ;). I’ve seen this particularly clearly recently; we really do need to keep our hearts open and the words of Jesus in our prayers. If your heart turns to stone, you will die, doesn’t matter how well you know the CCC and everything about the Catholic Church or how hard you work to save the environment, obtain universal health care and help immigrants. If you’re just doing your duty because you’ve seen the light and are right (thanks be to God) and others are wrong, forget it.

Yeah I know its funny, the media considers pro partial birth abortion and gay marriage democrats to be great people with extra plusses for that while conservatives in the opposite direction are labeled as extremists. You can get away with saying republicans are old white men while try to say anything about dems and you’ll be attacked as a racist. The weirdest thing is that somehow the media calls Barrack Obama a “moderate” in the democratic party with his crazy left wing views on social issues. Scary to think what the media considers an extremist by democrat standards.

But still they don’t get described as “rigid” in common speech and I think the pope might have been referencing what happened in the synod when his mouthpiece (Kasper) got attacked by rigid people opposed to change.

Why do you think Pope Francis is a free thinker about abortion?

Some things should be rigid and some things should not. In one of his books, Pope Benedict discusses what true reform is. The disciplines and human institutions in the Church are instituted to help us better live the unchangeable truth, but if they begin to instead obscure or get in the way they should be amended or pared back. The Pharisees’ laws were originally intended to keep people from even getting close to breaking the actual law, but it ultimately became so bloated that it kept people from actually doing good.

On the other hand, rigidity is a good thing in other respects, especially when it comes to the substance of the faith. If one does not build their house on a rigid substance, it will be swept away (Matt 7:24-27). The Pope should be the most rigid of all in this regard. There’s a reason Jesus named the first Pope “Rock” and not “Jello.”

I’m not quite understanding what you are asking.

You want an example of the media spinning the pope’s words and making it sound as though he is insulting those whose ideas are more liberal than traditional Catholic teaching?


Are you talking about ‘liberals’ as Catholic liberals or Liberalism in general? In Catholic terms while many people openly identify as ‘conservative’, ‘liberal’ is generally a pejorative accusation against Catholics who are not Traditionals. For example in my own environment, I’m considered a very conservative Catholic… but here on CAF I’ve been called a ‘liberal’ because I’ve defended the Popes decisions regarding Card. Kaspar and the decision to allow examination of the divorced/remarried situation. I have never and will never agree with abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage etc.

So you have to define exactly what you mean by liberal Catholic first and then pick situations that truly reflect liberal rigidity. I’m a (accused) CAF liberal and reject your identification of me as rigidly pro abortion etc.

Well said!!:thumbsup:

You figured it out that the only difference between liberals and conservatives are their prejudices.

After WWII there was a rush to understand Fascism which resulted in the F Scale. The scale did not shed any light on fascism but it did show that those on the far right and the far left were the same.

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