Pope Francis is calling for ordinary Catholics to live holy lives in whatever they do, stressing that the "saints next door" are more pleasing to God than religious elites who insist on perfect adherence to rules and doctrine. In a new document released Monday, Francis said defending the poor and migrants is "equally sacred" to defending the unborn, per the AP. And he warned that the vitriol that is sometimes spewed online—including by Catholic media—needs to stop since it violates God's commandment not to bear false witness, lie, or "ruthlessly vilify others." The document, "Rejoice and Be Glad," is the third apostolic exhortation of Francis' papacy, after the first two riled conservatives by condemning capitalism and suggesting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.
In the text, Francis said he had no intention of defining holiness or setting out the various ways to be made a saint. Rather, he said he wanted to re-propose the church's universal call to holiness that can be found next door, "the middle class of holiness" of a husband who loves his wife, a mother who patiently teaches her child, an employee who works with integrity. "A saintliness that is not for just a few heroes, for exceptional people, but that represents the ordinary way to life, an ordinary existence," said Paola Bignardi, an Italian laywoman and member of the Catholic Action network who presented the document at a Vatican press conference. Stressing that perfection isn't required, Francis listed as "enemies of holiness" those who claim a superior knowledge of laws and doctrine and force others to submit to their "myopic," absolutist interpretations.