“How much alleged superiority, transformed into oppression and exploitation, exists even today,” he added.
The Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica served as the official close of the Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian region, which took place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. The synod final document approved by the 181 voting bishops Oct. 26 calls for the ordination of married men in the Amazon region, and an ecological conversion for the entire Church.
“How many times, even in the Church, have the voices of the poor not been heard and perhaps scoffed at or silenced because they are inconvenient,” the pope said.
Pope Francis’ crosier for the closing Mass was a gift from members of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon. A woman carried a plant in the opening procession as the choir sang St. Francis’ Canticle, “Laudato Si.” She later presented the plant to Pope Francis during the presentation of the gifts.
The controversial statues “symbolizing life” that the pope said might be displayed in the basilica for the closing Mass were not present.
Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel from Luke in which a Pharisee’s prayer is “I thank you God that I am not like the rest of humanity,” while a tax collector prays for the mercy of God.
“The root of every spiritual error, as the ancient monks taught, is believing ourselves to be righteous,” Francis warned.
The pope said that the pharisee was “brimming with self-assurance about his own ability to keep the commandments” and was focused only on himself, forgetting to love God and his neighbor.
“He stands in the temple of God, but the one he worships is himself,” Pope Francis said, adding, in a departure from his prepared remarks, that there are many "prestigious" Catholic groups who do the same.
“Worship of self carries on hypocritically with its rites and ‘prayers' -- many are Catholics, they profess themselves Catholic, but have forgotten they are Christians and human beings -- forgetting the true worship of God which is always expressed in love of one's neighbor. Even Christians who pray and go to Mass on Sunday are subject to this religion of the self,” he added.