Pope Francis last Thursday told his followers that it was better to be an atheist than one of many Catholics whom he said led hypocritical double lives.
“So many Catholics are like this,” said Pope Francis during mass at his residence. “There are those who say, ‘I’m very Catholic, I always go to mass, I belong to this and that association.” But, he suggested, those people should also say, “’My life is not Christian, I don’t pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, I lead a double life’.”
He then quoted a sentiment he said he had heard often: “But to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.”
Pope Francis has surprised the church before with his stance towards atheists. Less than two months after becoming Pope in 2013, he said Christians should see atheists as good people if they do good.
The Pope’s hypocrisy remark is long overdue. The Catholic Church is increasingly being driven by hypocrisy. The church leadership is full of hypocrites – people who are sexually abusing children, stealing money, siring children all over while they are on vows of celibacy and are prostituting themselves with those who wield political and economic power at the expense of the poor and the helpless.
In saying all this, we are not in any way trying to insinuate that any human being should be a god or seen to be a god. No human being is perfect; we all have our faults, weaknesses, transgressions. However, hypocrisy is to delude oneself into denying one’s own faults, weaknesses, transgressions and allowing arrogance to grow within oneself. Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue. And as Tennessee Williams says, “The only thing worse than a liar is a liar who is also a hypocrite.”
We equally see this hypocrisy in our political leaders, especially in Edgar Lungu who tries to carry himself as a very committed Christian, but his deeds are to the contrary. In any nation, the hypocrites do not become apparent except during times of severe tests and hardships.
But people can see through all this hypocrisy and the hypocrites are not fooling anyone but themselves. And flattering someone who is doing something wrong is a sign of hypocrisy. But how often do we hear such flattering in Zambia?A hypocrite, when he talks, tells lies; when he gives a promise, he breaks it; and when he is trusted, he proves dishonest.
Hypocrisy goes against many biblical verses. And below are some of the many biblical verses that talk against hypocrisy:
1 John 4:20
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Do you suppose, Oh man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
1 John 2:9
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works…
2 Timothy 3:5
Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
1 John 2:4
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.