ROME, Italy, April 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis spoke critically again of the faithful who have a strong embrace of Catholic doctrine, resorting to pejorative terms he has often used such as hypocritical and phariseeism.
“You cannot be more restrictive than the Church herself,” he told a lay association gathered Thursday morning at the Vatican, “nor more Papist than the Pope.”
Addressing the Congress of the International Forum of Catholic Action in the Synod Hall, the pope told participants he wanted them to be out among the people and that there is a need for “active mercy.”
The theme for the association’s three-day gathering was “Catholic Action is mission, with all and for all.”
“Do not be border police,” he told the conference.
“Please, open the doors,” Pope Francis stated, “don’t administer Christian perfection tests because you will only promote a hypocritical phariseeism.”
He also warned Thursday against trying to clericalize the laity.
Compelling laypeople into a vocation because they perform valued service to the Church instead leaving this to the Holy Spirit “worries me,” Pope Francis said, according to the Catholic Herald. “Do not clericalize!”
The pope spoke negatively as well about “proselytism or coercion,” the Herald report said, “which goes against the Gospel.”
“It makes me really sad to see people who are in ministry – lay, consecrated, priests, bishops – who are still playing the proselytism card,” he stated. “No! It is done through attraction. That is the genius phrase of Pope Benedict XVI.”
The notion of working to convert others to the faith is something he has repeatedly criticized previously.
“That has nothing to do with proselytism,” he said of low priest numbers in Germany. “By proselytism, you will not gain vocations … ”
He defined proselytism as “the poaching of those with a different faith, like with a charity organization who poaches members. Then many young people come, who do not feel called, and ruin the Church.”
The pope stated in October that “there is a very grave sin against ecumenism: proselytism. We should never proselytize the Orthodox!”
Later that same month, he called religious proselytism “poison” during a meeting with Lutheran pilgrims in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
In a 2013 interview, the pope said, “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.”
Addressing an apostolic movement the following year, Pope Francis discouraged proselytism, “because it does not work.” He also cited Pope Benedict then in saying, “The Church doesn’t grow by proselytism, but by attraction.”
In a homily from June 2016, the pope preached against rigid application of Church doctrine, calling it “the chains of the laws' rigidity.” He said the Church never teaches us ‘or this or that,’ and “This is not Catholic, this is heretical.”
In pondering the increasing number of young people embracing the Latin Mass in November 2016, he asked, “Why so much rigidity?”
“Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else,” Pope Francis stated. “Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.”