Christians who speak hypocrisy can kill the community, Pope Francis warns

Christians who speak the language of hypocrisy and flattery can destroy a community and are not following the example of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis has warned.

(REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini)Pope Francis speaks as he leads the Chrismas mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 24, 2016.

During an early morning Mass at the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae on June 6, Pope Francis talked about what hypocrisy does to a Christian community. Drawing on the Pharisees' attempt to trick Jesus in His speech using their flattery, the pontiff said adulation is the first sign of hypocrisy, the Catholic News Service relays.

"Hypocrisy is not the language of Jesus. Hypocrisy is not the language of Christians. A Christian cannot be a hypocrite and a hypocrite cannot be a Christian," Pope Francis said in his homily. "This is very clear. Hypocrisy can kill a community."

Pope Francis also explained that hypocrites always start by exaggerating and fueling one's vanity with untruthful praises, as what the Pharisees did in the story recorded in the book of St. Mark. At that time, they were trying to trick Jesus into responding to a question about paying taxes.

Jesus, who was aware of what the Pharisees were thinking, told them to "repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar." His response illustrated that Christians ought to answer adulation with reality, just as Jesus did.

This is not the first time that Pope Francis discussed hypocrisy in his homily. In February, he told the Catholic congregation that it is better to become an atheist than to be a hypocritical Christian, The Guardian reports.

The pontiff said there are a lot of people who claim to be church-going Catholics and yet do not live a Christian life. He said some of them do not give their workers their due salary, and some lead a "double life."

Pope Francis has consistently instructed Catholics to practice what they preach. He also previously told them to treat atheists as good people if they are.