Pope's Christmas gift to Roman Curia: a harsh diagnosis of careerism, self-interest

Pope's Christmas gift to Roman Curia: a harsh diagnosis of careerism, self-interest

Pope Francis did not play Santa Claus today when he addressed the officials of the Roman Curia in their annual pre-Christmas get-together. Instead, he issued a blistering critique of "curial illnesses," ranging from the "terrorism of gossip" to the search for worldly profit.

It was another sign that this pope is trying to change the culture inside the Vatican, and not simply reform its bureaucratic structures.

Here is the pope's list of what he described as 15 of the most common illnesses and temptations that are found in the Roman Curia:

1. Feeling oneself as “immortal,” “immune” or even “indispensable,” a sense of superiority that results from a “pathology of power” and narcissism. To put things in perspective, the pope advised making visits to cemeteries to read the names of the once-powerful.

2. Working too hard, forgetting to take time for rest, reflection and spiritual revitalization.

3. Mental and spiritual petrification, causing one to lose touch with people and develop a “heart of stone.”

4. Excessive planning and an overly pragmatic approach to one’s mission, turning apostles into “accountants” and closing off the action of the Holy Spirit.

5. Poor coordination with colleagues, with the loss of a sense of communion and a team spirit.

6. “Spiritual Alzheimer’s,” in which the primary encounter with the Lord is forgotten and progressively replaced by obsession with one’s own projects. These are people, the pope said, who build walls around themselves with their own habits and activities.

7. Rivalry and arrogance, when humility gives way to selfish interests, and when honors and awards become a primary objective.

8. “Existential schizophrenia,” a hypocrisy that comes from spiritual emptiness and that often strikes those who leave pastoral service for strictly bureaucratic activities. The pope said these people proclaim severe truths to others but often lead hidden, dissolute lives.

9. The “terrorism of gossip,” an illness that begins perhaps with idle chatter and gradually takes over one’s personality, sometimes leading to the “cold-blooded murder” of the good name of colleagues. “This is the illness of cowards who lack the courage to speak directly, so they speak behind one’s back,” he said.

10. Deifying one’s boss, in the hope of gaining promotion or favor. These are wretched and selfish people thinking only of their own career advancement, the pope said, but they are often abetted by their superiors, who reward such flattery.

11. Indifference to others, often exhibited when information is kept for oneself rather than shared with colleagues, or when one takes joy in a colleague’s misfortune.

12. Long-faced, theatrical severity with others, who are deemed to be inferior in some way. The pope said such arrogance and pessimism have no place in the life of an apostle. “A heart full of God is a happy heart that radiates and infects with joy everyone around him,” he said.

13. The accumulation of material goods, which only slow down the journey to holiness.

14. The “closed circle” mentality, in which belonging to a select group is more important than service to the church and to Christ. The pope called this disease a type of cancer that can harm the church from within.

15. The search for worldly profit, in which positions of service to the church are used to obtain power and wealth. “This is the disease of people who seek insatiably to multiply powers and to that end are capable of vilifying, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines,” the pope said.

Ever since his election, Pope Francis has been asking officials of the Roman Curia to make a serious examination of conscience about their attitudes and practices. By raising these issues in such forceful terms today, he was telling them that he intends to follow through on his designs.


10 comments (Add your own)

1. A voice crying in the desert. wrote:
I think Pope Francis hit the nail on the head. Our Church has been a mess for a long time. We don't evangelize anymore. We don't serve. We hide behind our walls and do nothing while the world outside falls apart and our membership dwindles away. The Pope has to kick people in the rear in order to get them moving again. We whine and complain about how tough things are in our modern world. What a joke. All of the original apostles (except John) were killed for spreading the faith. We're so wrapped up in bureaucracy and rules that we can't have a bake sale without consulting Canon Law. We threw the Great Commission out the window a long time ago. It's time we got back to it.

We tried to start an evangelization effort in our parish a year ago. It got shut down by our pastor first and then our bishop. Two men more interested in preserving the status-quo than taking a risk to do God's work. I hope they read Pope Francis' words and take them to heart. Maybe we can still save a few souls before it's too late.

Mon, December 22, 2014 @ 12:16 PM

2. BHG wrote:
This is a diagnosis for much of the laity as well....

Mon, December 22, 2014 @ 12:30 PM

3. Ph.Martin wrote:
The little lefty court around the Pope having his support doesn't look much different. They are even worse.

Mon, December 22, 2014 @ 1:14 PM

4. John wrote:
This Pope is a truth teller. He wants what God wants and that means there will be some 'wounded' people in both the Curia and in the Church itself. All I can tell the Curia is 'GET OVER IT'--The issues they deal with are life and death in a spiritual sense and it would be nice if they would become more a leader of the Church than a spoiled bystander. GO FRANCIS!!!

Mon, December 22, 2014 @ 1:40 PM

5. Máire Ní Bhroin wrote:

Mon, December 22, 2014 @ 4:19 PM

6. Lurlena Burnett wrote:
Each of us is acutely aware of the potential for both good & evil that lies in the heart of every man. If we ever allow ourselves to forget this for long periods of time, we run the risk of becoming corrupt. Only constant vigilance can prevent such an inevitability. We have no option but to pray methodically - for ourselves & for one another.
"Cristo Missa Est". May He bring us all new light.

Mon, December 22, 2014 @ 6:23 PM

7. Yaya wrote:
I am glad this was finally addressed by our Holy Father. Let us pray for the Roman Curia and especially for those who take to heart what was said, and for those who will ignore it all, resent Pope Francis and seek to go about their same 'ol same 'ol.

Mon, December 22, 2014 @ 10:14 PM

8. jimmy wrote:
A wiseman said "A lie is a lie even if everybody believes it, The Truth is the Truth even if no-one believes it" Bishop Sheen. A sin is a sin even if it's watered down and we have politicized Jesus to where whatever is acceptable to society is acceptable to God, including sin. We used to have venial sins and mortal sins, who declared that we don't anymore, since they're not mentioned at all when it comes to immorality, ie fornication,adultery and same sex activities. This is the greatest dilema we're facing and it is brought about by the church and it's leaders ignoring it completely, as if we must befriend satan and his tactics in order to be good catholic christians.

Mon, December 22, 2014 @ 10:20 PM

9. As it should be wrote:
Many parishes suffer all fifteen points. They are lost when it comes to being of service to the greater parish

Mon, December 22, 2014 @ 10:45 PM

10. epb wrote:
Praise in public. Censure in private.

The Pope's tact was tacky. Where's the 'inspirational'? All but lost... Challenge, Papa; don't crush.

Tue, December 23, 2014 @ 7:36 AM

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