Their lives cause scandal, the Pope said, and lead people to say 'it would be better to be an atheist'

People who pretend to be Christians publicly, but follow their own selfish passions privately, destroy themselves and cause scandal to those around them, Pope Francis has said.

Jesus is severe with those who “lead double lives,” because they cause others to see Christianity in a bad light, the Pope said during morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“So many Catholics are like this and they scandalise. How many times have we heard – all of us, in our neighbourhood and in other places – ‘But to be a Catholic like that one, it would be better to be an atheist.’ That is the scandal. It destroys you, it throws you down,” he said.

The Pope focused his homily on the day’s Gospel reading from St Mark (9:41-50) in which Jesus gives a warning about anyone who “causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin.”

Some people who go to Mass and belong to church groups still fail to live a Christian life, the Pope said. “This happens every day; all you have to do is watch the news or read the newspapers. There are so many scandals in the newspapers and a lot of publicity on scandals. And these scandals destroy.”

On judgment day, he continued, those who lead double lives will present themselves before Jesus saying, “‘Don’t you remember? I went to church, I was close to you, I belonged to that association. Don’t you remember all the offerings I made?'”

“‘Yes, I remember, that I remember: All of it was dirty. All of it stolen from the poor. I do not know you.’ That will be Jesus’s response to those scandalous ones who live a double life,” the Pope said.

Christians should ask themselves if they are leading a double life or are “excessively confident” that they have plenty of time to convert, he said. “Let us think about this. And let us take advantage of the word of the Lord and remember that on this the Lord is very severe. Scandal destroys.”