News Headlines > Scandal of Catholics leading double lives gives ammunition to atheists, says pope

23 February 2017 | by Christopher Lamb in Rome

Scandal of Catholics leading double lives gives ammunition to atheists, says pope

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Since his election the Pope has sought to overhaul the Holy See’s finances, in particular the Vatican bank

During his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta on 23 February, Francis criticised believers who “say one thing but do another,” singling out Catholics who publicly profess a faith but mistreat their employees or launder money. 

“The double life is everywhere,” the Pope explained during Mass in the Vatican chapel. He described it as people who say: “ ‘I'm very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association or another; but my life is not Christian. I don’t pay a fair amount to my employees, I exploit people, I’m involved in dirty business dealings, I launder money.” 

 The “scandal” of double lives, the Pope went on, led many people to believe it was better to have nothing to do with faith at all. Instead, Francis urged Catholics not to put off changing their ways. 

“A double life. And so many Christians are like this, and these people scandalise others. How many times have we heard - all of us, in different neighbourhoods - 'but to be a Catholic like that, better to be an atheist,’ ” Francis said. 

He gave the example of a company on the verge of bankruptcy where workers had not been paid their wages but, rather than working to avoid a strike, the leader of the company -  a Catholic - was on a winter beach holiday in the Middle East. 

Francis did not give further details on which company was involved, but his remarks on money laundering, poor wages for workers and corruption will strike a chord in Italy where corruption is an increasing problem and where the mafia dominates large areas in the south. 

Since his election, the Pope has sought to overhaul the Holy See’s finances in particular the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), otherwise known as the Vatican bank, which he found did not have enough safeguards to prevent money laundering. 

Last weekend, the Vatican’s chief prosecutor announced that more than two million euros (£1.1 million) has been seized in cases of suspected laundering. 

Gian Pietro Milano explained that between 2013 and 2016 the total amount of money frozen was around 13 million euros (£11.1 million) with the action taken following alerts from the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, the Holy See’s financial watchdog. 

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