Pope Francis is taking direct aim at the wealthy and powerful of the world, saying in his message for Lent that they are often "slaves of sin" who, if they ignore the poor, "will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is hell," the Religion News website reports today (January 27, 2016).
"The greater their power and wealth, the more this blindness and deception can grow," the pontiff wrote in his annual Lenten exhortation which was released on January 26.
Francis has made caring for the poor and denouncing social injustice a hallmark of his pontificate since his election in 2013. He has said he would like "a church that is poor and for the poor," and he has called the "unfettered pursuit of money" the "dung of the devil."
In this year's message to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics for the penitential season leading to Easter, he uses some of his most powerful language yet. He talks about the corrupting influence of money and power, while pointing out that caring for the poor -- and not just praying for them -- is the path to genuine conversion.