Cardinal Lajolo on the speech to the Curia: nothing like this has ever happened before
The cardinal claims: 'The Pope talks about himself as well. Gossip can kill'Giacomo Galeazzi Vatican City 'To be honest, nothing like this has ever happened before'. Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the former Vatican governor and foreign minister, does not hide his surprise. 'It is the first time this has happened; never before had a Pope set us in the Curia a series of pathologies that we must examine ourselves on.' All along, says the cardinal who has been head of some of the most important offices of the Holy See for many years, 'the exchange of Christmas wishes has been a customary occasion, that follows a usual pattern'.
What did you expect from Pope Francis' speech?
'On this occasion, his predecessors would usually say nothing but the most relevant events of the past year. They summed up the principal events in the Church and in their apostolic activity. So you could have expected Francis to talk about his travels to the Holy See and Turkey, instead he said nothing about them. Maybe he will refer to these in his speech to the ambassadors to the Vatican.'
How did you welcome the Pope's warning?
'It is the request of an examination of conscience, of an end-of-the-year confession. For the first time a Pope asks the Curia to examine itself on a number of problematic issues. For instance, on the basis of my experiences of the Curia, I believe that a simplification of procedures would diminish scandals.'
Why does the Pope implicate cardinals and bishops?
'The seven deadly sins are within all of us. Even the Pope often calls himself a sinner. And if he is a sinner, never mind us. Scandals will continue to exist as long as the world exists. The Gospel says that it is necessary for scandals to take place, but those who cause them will be sorry. It is the word of Christ, which is unquestionable for us.'
So you cannot avoid scandals?
'It is the duty of the superiors in the Curia to make sure these things do not happen. And since he holds the most responsibility, the Pope is the first one to deal with them. Reforming institutions is necessary but it is not enough. We need a conversion of the hearts. The Church needs constant reformations, and the Roman Curia in particular, which gathers the tensions and issues of the local Churches throughout the whole world.
Will the reforms under way at the moment be enough?
'it is useful for ecclesiastical institutions to become simpler and more efficient but there are men whose hearts are known to be a mess within them. Tacitus' question is extremely current; what do we need good laws for, if we do not have good values? Honest conduct is not established by law. Francis asks us to carefully reflect on our behaviour and our weaknesses, thinking of the evil that we do. Starting from gossip, that can kill.'