Monday, December 22, 2014

Viva il Papa! The Holy Father speaks frankly on the reform of the Curia.

If a good man reproves me, it is kindness. - Ps. 141:5

Avoiding sentimentality at Christmas ...

This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father held his annual meeting with the Roman Curia to exchange Christmas greetings with the members of its component dicasteries, councils, offices, tribunals and commissions. “It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.

“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments. - Vatican Information Service

The Holy Father warns against the 'terrorism of gossip' ...

La Stampa’s Vatican Insider has the full list of 15 diseases Francis named. They’re also available, in Italian, on the Vatican’s press office site. Some of the highlights – or lowlights – depending on whether you are a member of the Curia or not: 
On feeling “immortal:” “A curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself, is an infirm Body’.” 
On what he means by “spiritual Alzheimers:” “A progressive decline of spiritual faculties’ which ’causes severe disadvantages to people’, making them live in a ‘state of absolute dependence on their, often imagined, views’. We can see this in those who have ‘lost their memory’ of their encounter with the Lord, in those who depend on their ‘passions, whims and obsessions’.” 
On the disease of “existential schizophrenia:” this refers to “a double life, a result of the hypocrisy typical of mediocre people and of advancing spiritual emptiness, which degrees or academic titles cannot fill’.” Ouch. 
Some of his harshest words were reserved to sins related to gossiping, which, as shown above, the pope likened to the actions of Satan. Gossip, he said, will grip a person and transform him into one of the “sowers of discord.” which is a pretty direct reference to what Satan does. Francis called gossips “cold-blooded murderers” of reputations. “It is the disease of cowards, who do not have the courage to speak upfront and so talk behind one’s back… Watch out against the terrorism of gossip!” he said.  - Washington Post
An examen.

There are so many helpful points for our own personal examination of conscience in what the Holy Father notes.  He is like a good spiritual father, and kindly spiritual director pointing out the pitfalls of the spiritual life.  I especially like these:

“The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honouring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.

“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person (fall) instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”. - VIS

At the very end, the Holy Father asks everyone to pray for priests.  

The Christmas season is very difficult for priests - many penance services and confession, some priests have no assistants and offer all the Masses scheduled alone, and there is always a demand for their time.  Imagine a busy priest falling asleep in prayer.  Or a priest too busy to follow what the Pope really says and gets his information from crack pots  bloggers like us - imagine how discouraging that can be?
“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”. - Pope Francis

Pray for priests.

At the end of the address some news reports said
the applause was 'tepid'.  My source told me
Monsignor Ganswein was heard to say:
"I was told this was supposed to be a party!"


  1. Whoa. Carnival is over. Merry Christmas I guess. LOL!

    I love our Pope. He cuts not to wound but to purify. The light he shines is healing, renewing.

    I have many diseases, and I can at least see something of myself, in some way or other, in these diagnosis of Francis. But Christ's memory within me recalls me to Himself.

  2. Merry Christmas Terry.

  3. Well, nice to see you here Paul, of Spike is Best blog! Good feathers flock together :)

  4. Of course, while I'm all for stamping out gossip, in the interests of being a contrarian I'd add that if the Pope's words didn't so often lack clarity then his obfuscations wouldn't promote as much gossip as they do. And with all due respect, I'm not sure that anything but the most malicious gossip can produce as much division as he has during his pontificate. Having seen how much discord and despair has infected the Church in the last year and a half, I can't help but think that this is not quite what Christ had in mind when He talked about bringing not peace, but division.

    Ah, I just say keep calm and ignore him! There are far too many wise words from the Church Fathers out there to let the present get one down. Merry Christmas, Terry!

    1. I sort of can't wait 'till the professionals dissect this.

      Merry Christmas Mitchell!

    2. Yes, isn't it awesome?! The intrigue that the Holy Father stirs! The little blog wars! How nice to above it all while the "professionals" dissect one another!

  5. Why would the pope think it's a good idea to excoriate and humiliate the people who work for him in a very public way, for all the world's media to trumpet? How would you have felt if you were one of those cardinals? Great leaders don't humiliate their people. Great leaders know how to rally and inspire their people. I don't know why the pope thinks these kinds of tactics are a good idea. He could meet with them privately and make his concerns known.

    1. I wonder if the Holy Father wasn't speaking directly to each of us - to the entire Church - especially in view of the martyrdom of Christians on a Global scale. His words seem hard - but as many of his critics insist, charity isn't always 'nice'.

      As a backslider,a habitual sinner, I have always felt the sting of rebuke by a holy man to be most effective in the opening my heart, to use mystical terms, to allow my heart to be rent by the sweet cautery of contrition and compunction.

      The Pope - it seems to me at least - speaks from the heart of what causes sin and division among us - he knows it from experience I think. Why else would he sound the alarm?

      It is the darkest night for the Church, until the Little Jesus pierces it with his light.

      Let's pray with all of our hearts that he - the Bambino Jesu will shed light upon us - upon our consciences - to illuminate them.

      I wonder sometimes if the warning some visionaries speak about may not be something like what we experience in this papacy - are not consciences revealed in and through what the Holy Father says? His words illuminate my conscience - I wonder if the disturbance experienced by so many is not that?

      There are places - in Iraq and Syria - where everything has been taken away - the Christians who survive, in exile - experience no consolation. Is a call to repentance such a harsh penance in contrast? Our reward is not in this life.

    2. I think you're right to have this concern, Sr. I thought of nearly the same thing myself this morning, though in a different context: can you imagine if an employer held his or her employees' reviews out in public like this? And to think that so many people have accused any critics of Pope Francis as being "toxic" or "negative". It's astonishing the hypocrisy and idolatry.

      The glee with which some have received this rebuke, on this blog and in the secular press, should tell us something, too. If we wish to talk about Satan, perhaps we could begin with the deception inherent right there.

  6. I thought he was talking about Catholic bloggers.

    1. I thought he was talking about me.

  7. I'm glad to see this addressed by the Holy Father: “The sickness of deifying leaders..."

    That many Catholics have given themselves to idolatry and made the Pope himself an idol is clearly something that should be rebuked. Glad to see it finally happened. He was speaking to all of our, after all, not just the Curia.

  8. Wow, sweet, quiet Francis, can kick ass and take names! I wouldn't want to be on his bad side..he is truly the iron fist in the velvet glove!

    " He could meet with them privately and make his concerns known.'

    I have a feeling he has, and has had push back, as we have seen following the Synod.

  9. Party!

    I laughed out loud when I saw the headline "Pope Francis’ Festivus Greeting"

    1. I saw that too! I first saw it as a comment on Fr. Z's post and LOL! It actually works.

    2. Or maybe I saw it elsewhere?

  10. I suspect that if people knew the kind of evil and perfidy being perpetrated by more than a few Curial audience members, they'd not be quite as quick to condemn Pope Francis for calling this group out.

    When criminals like Maciel get away with perverted abuse, deceit, and fraud for decades right under the nose of the Vatican, you know there must be some serious Smoke of Satan swirling about in the Curia.

    Shining light into the dark corners is bound to piss off a lot of people. And shining light onto the Smoke of Satan is a dangerous enterprise, but apparently one this Pope isn't afraid to engage in. He knows exactly how the game is being played by certain rotten hierarchs, and he's letting them know he doesn't plan to let it continue.

    If anything can restore credibility to Our Holy Church, it is exactly this---calling out evil festering within it and making it clear it won't be tolerated. It won't win Pope Francis any brownie points with those who would rather keep up appearances than face the ugliness happening under the surface, but given human nature, it's totally expected.


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