Pope Francis called for the Catholic Church and its followers to rid themselves of earthly concerns like St Francis of Assisi during a pilgrimage to the saint’s Italian hometown.
“The Church, all of us should divest ourselves of worldliness,” a visibly emotional pope said, adding: “Worldliness is a murderer because it kills souls, kills people, kills the Church.
“Without divesting ourselves, we would become pastry shop Christians, like beautiful cakes and sweet things but not real Christians.”
The Argentine pope also referred to the migrant shipwreck tragedy off the Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday in which 111 people are confirmed to have died.
The world “does not care about the many people fleeing slavery, hunger, fleeing in search of freedom. And how many of them die as happened yesterday! Today is a day of tears,” he said.
The pope became the first to adopt the name of St Francis when he was elected in March, saying he was inspired by the saint’s humility and his teachings on peace and protecting God’s creation.
On his visit, the pope met with many poor and disabled people being aided by Catholic charities.
He told a group of handicapped children that their “wounds need to be listened to and recognised”.
In a more light-hearted moment, the pope also had advice for married couples, urging them not to go to bed angry. “Argue as much as you like, even if the plates fly that is fine, but never end the day without making peace.”
Francis was visiting Assisi with the eight cardinals he has handpicked to advise him on overhauling the scandal-hit Church.