Pope takes a swipe at 'Christian parrots'

Pope Francis says there is "no point" in people going to church if they do not follow the teachings of the Bible in their daily lives.

The head of the Catholic church took a stand against what he termed "Christian parrots", who talk a lot about their religion but don't do good deeds.

"If I say I am Catholic and go to mass, but then don't speak with my parents, help my grandparents or the poor, go and see those who are sick, this does not prove my faith, there's no point," he told young residents of Guidonia, a village near Rome.

"Those who do this are nothing but Christian parrots - words, words, words," said the Pope, according to Italian newspaper La Stampa.

"Christian faith is expressed with three things: words, the heart, and the hands."

Canon law requires Catholics to go to church "on Sundays and other holy days of obligation" and to abstain from work or other business that would inhibit their worship on those days.

During his conversation with the parishioners, Pope Francis also said it could be difficult to forgive people when they have hurt you, or even, in some cases, committed crimes against you.

"It's difficult, I knew an old woman who was strong, bright, whose husband used to hit her. You should always forgive but sometimes to forget is difficult," he said, according to La Stampa and a more detailed report on the website Famiglia Cristiana.

"When you're at war with someone, your heart is wounded by hate and hostility, and those wounds can hurt, but you need to forgive them and not go to that person to forgive them like an enemy.

"Forgiveness needs to be given with the heart, even if you don't say it out loud, by treating that person as if nothing had happened."

Pope Francis, 80, was born in Buenos Aires and succeeded Pope Benedict XVI following his resignation in spring 2013. His full name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

He also spoke of the "darkness" that sometimes clouds his own belief.

"Some days you can't see faith, and all is black," he said, referring to the challenges faced by people in earthquake-stricken areas of Italy.

"I, too, have at times experienced moments of darkness in my faith, and my faith diminished a lot, but then, after a short time, I found it again."

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