Pope warns Catholic clergy to be humble, not hypocrites

Sat Aug 16, 2014 12:25pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella and Ju-min Park

KKOTTONGNAE South Korea (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Saturday issued a clear warning to Roman Catholic clergy, saying those who profess poverty while living rich material lives were hypocrites who hurt the image and mission of the Church.

On the third day of his visit to South Korea, Francis celebrated a huge open-air Mass in the center of the capital Seoul, where he denounced the growing gap between the haves and have nots, urging people in affluent societies to listen to "the cry of the poor" among them.

Later, he flew by helicopter to a hilltop center for the sick, disabled and homeless run by the Church in the town of Kkottongnae, southeast of Seoul.

There, he comforted sick children and adults, some of them severely disabled and disfigured and in wheel chairs, and declined to use a comfortable white, padded chair that had been prepared for him. "I like to stand," he said. Bowing to local tradition, he removed his shoes as he entered the center.

Later, in another section of the institute, Francis praised clergy who dedicate their lives to the needy and urged them to stay on the right path.

"The hypocrisy of those consecrated men and women who profess vows of poverty, yet live like the rich, wounds the souls of the faithful and harms the Church," he said.

Francis has been urging Roman Catholic officials to live simpler lives, and renounced the papal apartments in the Vatican palace for modest quarters in a Church guest house.

In March, he removed a German prelate who became known as the "bishop of bling" because he spent 31 million euros ($41.5 million) of Church funds on an extravagant residence.   Continued...

Pope Francis blesses a disabled child during his visit to the rehabilitation center for disabled people at Kkottongnae in Eumseong,  August 16, 2014. REUTERS/Ahn Young-joon/Pool