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Pope: Half-hearted Catholics aren't really Catholics at all

Vatican City

Those who insist others pray and believe exactly like they do, those who have alternatives to every church teaching and benefactors who use the church as a cover for business connections may call themselves Catholics, but they have one foot out the door, Pope Francis said.

"Many people say they belong to the church," but in reality have "only one foot inside," the pope said Thursday at the morning Mass in the chapel of his residence.

"For these people, the church is not home," but is a place they use as a rental property, he said, according to Vatican Radio.

Pope Francis reflected on the day's Gospel reading, John 17:20-26, and Jesus' prayer that there would be unity, not divisions and conflict, among his disciples. There are three groups of people who call themselves Catholic, but are not really, the pope said. Apologizing for making up words, he labeled the three groups: "uniformists," "alternativists" and "businessists."

The first group, he said, believe that everyone in the church should be just like them. "They are rigid! They do not have that freedom the Holy Spirit gives," and they confuse what Jesus preached with their "own doctrine of uniformity."

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"Jesus never wanted the church to be so rigid," Pope Francis said. Such people "call themselves Catholics, but their rigid attitude distances them from the church."

The second group, those with alternative teachings and doctrines, "has a partial belonging to the church. These, too, have one foot outside the church," he said. "They rent the church," not recognizing that its teaching is based on the preaching of Jesus and the apostolic tradition.

Members of the third group "call themselves Christians but don't enter into the heart of the church," they use the church "for personal profit," the pope said. "We have all seen them in parish or diocesan communities and religious congregations; they are some of the benefactors of the church."

"They strut around proud of being benefactors, but in the end, under the table, make their deals," he said.

Pope Francis said the church is made up of people with a variety of differences and gifts, and if one wants to belong to it, he or she must be motivated by love and enter with "your whole heart."

Being open to the Spirit, who fosters harmony in diversity, he said, brings "docility," which is "the virtue that saves us" from entering the church half-heartedly.

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