Pope Francis at Sunday Angelus: ‘We must not be slaves to any earthly power’

Pope Francis delivers his Sunday Angelus message to about 20,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Oct. 22, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2023 / 09:00 am (CNA).

During Sunday’s Angelus address, Pope Francis spoke to the faithful on the importance of the correct relationship between the Church and the state.

The pope opened with a reflection on the words in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus says: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Mt 22:21).”

The pope inveighed against an improper understanding of these words. “These words of Jesus have become commonplace, but at times they have been used incorrectly — or at least reductively — to talk about the relations between Church and state, Christians and politics,” the pontiff said. “Often they are interpreted as though Jesus wanted to separate ‘Caesar’ from ‘God,’ that is, earthly from spiritual reality. At times we too think in this way: Faith with its practices is one thing, and daily life is another.”

The Holy Father warned against the tendency to think of the two as belonging to separate and mutually exclusive spheres. “This is a form of ‘schizophrenia,’” he said, “as though faith had nothing to do with real life, with the challenges of society, with social justice, with politics and so forth.”

Instead, “Jesus wants to help us place ‘Caesar’ and ‘God’ each in their proper place,” the Holy Father explained. “We are the Lord’s, and we must not be slaves to any earthly power,” he continued.

“The things of this world belong to Caesar, but man and the world itself belong to God: Do not forget this,” the pope implored.

According to the Vatican Gendarmeria, there were more than 20,000 faithful present in St. Peter’s Square for the Oct. 22 address.

About 20,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Oct. 22, 2023, to hear Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus message. Credit: Vatican Media

After the end of the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father appealed once again for peace in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, which is entering its third week.

“Once again my thoughts turn to what is happening in Israel and Palestine. I am very worried, saddened; I pray and I am close to all those who suffer, the hostages, the injured, the victims and their families,” the pope said.

The pope also lamented the recent strikes at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital and the Church of St. Porphyrius in Gaza City.

“It pains me that the Anglican hospital and the Greek Orthodox parish were also hit in recent days,” he said.

The Holy Father also continued his appeal for humanitarian efforts to not be obstructed and for the release of hostages.

“I renew my appeal for spaces to be opened up, humanitarian aid to continue to arrive, and the hostages to be freed,” the pope said.

The compound of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Porphyrius, which was giving refuge to hundreds of Palestinian Christians and Muslims, was hit by a missile on Oct. 20. More than a dozen people were killed. The 12th-century church is the oldest church in Gaza.

“The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem expresses its strongest condemnation of the Israeli air strike that has struck its church compound in the city of Gaza,” the Orthodox Church said in a statement following the blast.

About 20,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to hear Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus message on Oct. 22, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

The pope took a moment to also remember those who continue to suffer in Ukraine.

“War, every war in the world — I am also thinking of the tormented Ukraine — is a defeat,” Francis said. “War is always a defeat, it is a destruction of human brotherhood. Brothers, stop! Stop!”

At the end of the Angelus the pope reminded the faithful that next Friday, Oct. 27, will be a day of prayer and fasting and there will be an hourlong prayer vigil held in St. Peter’s Square to pray for peace in the world. The vigil will start at 6 p.m. Rome time.

The pope also briefly mentioned today’s World Mission Day, the theme of which is “Hearts on fire, feet on the move” — “Two images that say everything!” Francis said — inspired by the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24.

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