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Grace, not money, should guide financial choices, pope says

Hypocrisy of clergy who 'live like the rich wounds the consciences of the faithful'

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service International

November 29, 2016

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Just as "the habit does not make the monk," taking a vow of poverty does not automatically mean a consecrated person lives with a detachment from material things and in solidarity with the poor, CNS reported Pope Francis as saying.

In fact, "the hypocrisy of consecrated men and women who live like the rich wounds the consciences of the faithful and damages the church," the pope said in a written message to treasurers of religious orders.

Taking a vow of poverty and having no personal property is not fulfilling the vow "if my institute allows me to manage or enjoy all the goods I desire," the pope told the religious, who were in Rome for a symposium on economics and religious life.

The founding "charism" — literally "grace" — or ideal of a religious order is not "static or rigid," the pope said. Rather, members of orders must continually look at the world and the church and discern how God wants that original grace to be lived in the world today with the human and material resources the order has.

In the world at large, but particularly in religious life, he said, what one does with money is never morally neutral: "Either it contributes to building relationships of justice and solidarity or it generates situations of exclusion and rejection."

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