Pope seeks 'saints next door' not doctrinaire perfectionists

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Pope seeks 'saints next door' not doctrinaire perfectionists
Pope Francis leaves St. Peter's Square at the Vatican after a Mass on the Sunday of Divine Mercy, Sunday, April 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is calling for ordinary Catholics to live holy lives in whatever they do, stressing that “saints next door” are more pleasing to God than religious elites who insist on perfect adherence to rules and doctrine.

In a document released Monday, Francis said defending the poor and migrants is “equally sacred” to defending the unborn. That seemed to be a not-so-veiled critique of the conservative right in the U.S. for whom opposition to abortion trumps the Gospel mandate to love and welcome the stranger.

The document, “Rejoice and Be Glad,” is the third apostolic exhortation of Francis’ papacy. The first two riled conservatives by condemning capitalism and suggesting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

It was signed March 19, the fifth anniversary of Francis’ pontificate.