In his sermon Thursday Pope Francis suggested that Catholics and Christians who are not practicing what they preach are no better than atheists.
The pope made the charge as part of a broader message about the destructive power of scandal.
"Scandal is saying one thing and doing another. It is a double life," the pontiff said. "So many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. How many times have we heard...'but to be a Catholic like that, it's better to be an atheist.'"
The pope's message drew praise on the University of Dallas campus Friday.
"Short, pithy statements that are provocative, they get some attention and they give us an opportunity to think and reflect," said Ted Whapham, dean of the university's School of Ministry. "His broad message is about living an authentic life and if you are going to be a person of faith, that can't be something in name only."
Though Pope Francis speaks for the Catholic Church his message is resonating with people from other Christian denominations.
"[The message] is for everybody. If you're going to call yourself a Christian, you have to, I guess, follow Jesus," said Marybeth Gibson, before heading into First Baptist Dallas.