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Pope warns of danger of ideological dictatorships
Catholic News Service photo
Pope Francis waves as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 9. 
Catholic News Service photo
Pope Francis waves as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 9. 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Idolizing one's own way of thinking and of interpreting reality closes God out of the equation and can lead to a "dictatorship of thought" that violates the consciences of others and punishes anyone who disagrees, Pope Francis said.

In Jesus' time, the Pharisees were convinced that their interpretation of the law and their following it to the letter would save them, the pope said in a homily April 10 at his early morning Mass. "Their theology was enslaved to this framework, this way of thinking."

For the Pharisees, he said, "there is no possibility of dialogue, no possible openness to the newness that God brings with the prophets. They killed the prophets, these people, shutting the door on the promise of God."

But the idolatry of one way of thinking didn't end with the Pharisees and the danger of ideological dictatorships continues today, the pope said, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

"In the last century, we all saw the dictatorships of one way of thinking and how they ended up killing so many people," the pope said.

Even today, he said, there are powerful individuals and organizations that try to dictate how everyone should think. If one disagrees, they say "you are not modern, you are not open" or make even worse accusations.

In international relations and international aid schemes, Pope Francis said, a country will ask for assistance and be told, "if you want this help, you have to think in this way and you have to pass this law, and this other law and this other law."

In the Gospels, the Pharisees pick up rocks to stone Jesus for interpreting God's commandments differently, he said, and today the Pharisees' ideological successors "stone the freedom of the people, their freedom of conscience, the people's relationship with God. And today Jesus is crucified again."

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