ROME, March 15, 2013 ( – In the first sermon of his pontificate, Pope Francis warned his listeners that the Catholic Church cannot be merely “a charitable NGO” that ignores the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

“We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord,” the pontiff told the assembled cardinals yesterday, during a mass celebrated in the Sistine Chapel.


“When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: 'Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil,'” the pope added, quoting the famous French novelist.

“When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness,” he said.

A translation of the entire sermon, which was given in Italian, can be found here.

The Pope emphasized the centrality of the Cross to the Christian life, insisting that even a Pope, Cardinal, or Bishop is not a disciple of Christ if they do not embrace the Cross.

“When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord,” he said. “We are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.”

He also expressed his wish to the Cardinals that they would have “the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified.”

“And in this way, the Church will go forward,” he added.

The pope's statements echo those made by Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), indicating that the charitable activities of the Church cannot be separated from its evangelizing mission. Benedict also stated that protecting the right to life is an essential component of social justice.

Pope Benedict followed the encyclical with a series of reforms aimed at Caritas Internationalis and its member organizations, which include the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) and the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

As has documented, the two organizations have been involved in funding groups that support the legalization and provision of abortion by governments, promote the homosexual agenda, advocate contraceptives and distribute condoms, and even attack the Holy See's observer status at the United Nations.