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Don't use religion to serve worldly ends, Pope warns audience

September 03, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI cautioned against using religion as “a façade, a covering” for worldly pursuits, during his Angelus audience on Sunday, September 2.

God’s law liberates man, the Pope told the audience at Castel Gandolfo; it “releases him from the slavery of selfishness.” Therefore those who truly love God’s law see it “not as a burden, an overwhelming limitation, but as the Lord’s most precious gift.”

But in every age, the Pope continued, many people unfortunately continue “to place their safety and their happiness in something which is no longer the Word of the Lord: in material goods and in power, other 'divinities' which are, in fact, empty and futile idols.” The problem is compounded, he said, when such people exploit religion. Then “religion loses its authentic meaning,” he said; it is “reduced to a secondary habit.”

“This is a serious risk in every religion,” the Pope said. It is the reason why Jesus had such hard words for the Pharisees, denouncing their tendency to use the Law for their own purposes--not to honor God, but to “satisfy the rather human need to feel we have done right before God.” As a result, Jesus condemned them for “teaching human precepts as doctrine.”


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