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Leaders who leave faith risk slide to corruption, says pope

Some 500 politicians attend Mass with Francis in St. Peter's

27 March, 13:11
Leaders who leave faith risk slide to corruption, says pope (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 27 - When political leaders move away from God and faith, there is a risk they can slide into sin and corruption, Pope Francis said Thursday during a Mass with about 500 of Italy's leading politicians.

In his homily during Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with parliamentarians, Francis delivered a hard-hitting message about the duties of leaders to avoid developing a "hardened heart" towards their people.

"The hearts of this people, this group, with time became hardened so, so, so much - so that it was impossible to hear the voice of the Lord," said the pope, referring to Gospel readings on leaders who turn away from God. "And as sinners, they slid (downwards); they became corrupt," he added during the Mass held shortly before the pope met with United States President Barack Obama at the Vatican. Most members of Italy's Parliament attended the Mass, including nine cabinet ministers and the Speakers of the Senate and the House, Pietro Grasso and Laura Boldrini. "The corrupt person is fixated on his affairs...(they) have taken the wrong path," said Francis. "In this logic, there is no place for God: this must be done, this must be done, this must...They have become behavioral well-mannered men, but with bad habits," he added. "Jesus calls them 'whitewashed tombs'," concluded Francis. Among the ministers present were Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, Justice Minister Andrea Orlando, Infrastructure Minister Maurizio Lupi, Civil Service Minister Marianna Madia and the cabinet under-secretary Graziano Delrio.