On November 20, 2016, TV2000, the Italian Episcopal Conference TV channel, broadcasted an interview with Pope Francis, for the conclusion of the Holy Year of Mercy. Here are a few excerpts:
Question: “Holy Father, you often repeat that you would like to see a poor Church for the poor: is it really possible, and how?”
The Pope’s answer: “We are the ones who make up the Church as an institution; we are the community. God’s greatest – greatest! – enemy is money. If you think about it, Jesus gives money lord’s status, master’s status when he says: ‘No one can serve two masters, two lords: God and money.’ God and wealth- He doesn’t say God and - I don’t know - disease or God and something else: he says money. Because money is an idol. We see it now, in this world where it seems money pulls the strings.
“Money is an instrument that is there to serve and poverty is at the heart of the Gospel, Jesus speaks of this clash: two lords, two masters. I either follow one or the other. Do I follow this one, He is my Father? Or do I follow this other master who puts me in chains? The truth is this: the devil always enters through people’s pockets, always. It’s his way in.
We need to fight to create a poor Church for the poor, according to the Gospel, right? We must fight. And when I read Matthew 25, which is the yardstick by which we will all be judged, I realize even more what a poor Church for the poor really means: works of mercy, right? In Matthew 25. It can be done, but we must always fight because the lure of wealth is always very powerful.”
St. Ignatius teaches us in the exercises that there are two hurdles: the first one is wealth, which begins to corrupt our soul; then, vanity, soap bubbles, a vain life that’s all about appearances; and then there is arrogance and pride. And this is where all sins stem from. But the first hurdle is money, the lack of poverty.”