Pastors leading double lives are harmful to the church, says Pope Francis

Pastors should not follow the examples set by the scribes and Pharisees of the Biblical times who led double lives because these people were harmful to the church, Pope Francis warned.

(REUTERS / Gabriel Buoys)Pope Francis visits the the CeReSo n. 3 penitentiary in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. February 17, 2016.

During his homily at the Domus Sanctae Marthae on Jan. 9, Pope Francis reflected on the reading from St. Mark in which the crowd was amazed at Jesus' teachings which were different from that of the scribes'. The pontiff said this authority can also be evident in today's pastors if they walk closely with God in prayer and to the people under them, Crux relayed.

"Jesus is clear in this: 'Do what they say' - they speak the truth - 'but not what they do,'" Pope Francis told the faithful. "It is awful to see pastors with double lives: it is a wound in the church."

In addition, Pope Francis said pastors who were far from God were "sick" and had lost hold of their authority. Because they say one thing and do a different one, they are unable to convey the message of God's salvation to other people.

Jesus compared leaders who lead double lives to "whitened sepulchers" that displayed beautiful teachings on the outside but were filthy deep inside. For this reason, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of drawing close to God always in prayer.

This was not the first time that the pope urged Christians to do away with living a double life. During a morning Mass in February last year, the pontiff warned against scandalizing "the little ones" by their double lives, the Vatican Radio reported.

Pope Francis called out Catholics who always attended Mass and were active in religious organizations but did not live a Christian life. If a person only lived like a believer on the outside, then it is better for him to be an atheist, the pontiff said.