From the Vatican Insider:
Francis invites his collaborators to examine their conscience to confess their 'sins' in today's speech. He mentions vainglory and feeling essential, as well as 'spiritual Alzheimer's' and hoarding money and power. The Pope also speaks of closed circles and worldly profit, as well as the 'terrorism of gossip'ANDREA TORNIELLI Vatican City
15 diseseases listed and explained, one by one in detail. In his second Christmas speech to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis identifies and explains 15 shades of sin, inviting everyone to ask for God's forgiveness. The same God who 'is born in poverty in a cave in Bethlehem to teach us the power of humility', and was welcomed not by the "chosen" people but by the "poor and simple". Pope Francis asks his collaborators to really examine their conscience in preparation for confession before Christmas.
Francis explains that these 'diseases' and 'temptations' do not only concern the Curia but 'are naturally a danger to every Christian and every curia, community, congregation, parish, and ecclesiastic movement'. The Pope, however, clearly identifies these as present within the environment where he has been living for 21 months now.
The Pope said that 'it would be good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is as a "body" which earnestly attempts to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and in Christ every day". The Curia, like the Church, cannot live 'without having a vital, personal, authentic and solid relationship with Christ'. And a member of the Curia who does not draw from that every day will become a mere bureaucrat. He adds that ' we will talk about the list of diseases which, following the Fathers of the desert, will aid us in preparing for confession'.
The disease of feeling 'immortal' or 'essential''A curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself, is an infirm Body'. The Pope mentions that a visit to cemeteries could help us see the names of many who 'maybe thought they were immortal, exempt and essential!'. It is the disease of those who 'turn into masters and feel superior to everyone rather than in the service of all people. It often comes from the pathology of power, the "Messiah complex" and narcissism'.
The disease of excessive activity
It is the disease of those who, like Martha in the Gospel, 'lose themselves in their work, inevitably neglecting "what is better"; sitting at Jesus' feet'. The Pope recalls that Jesus 'called his disciples to "rest a little", because neglecting necessary rest brings anxiety and stress'.
The diseases of mental and spiritual 'petrification'
It is the disease of those who 'lose their internal peace, their vivacity and audacity, to hide under papers and become "procedural machines" instead of men of God', unable to 'weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice!'.
The disease of overplanning
'When the apostle plans everything in detail' and believes that, through this, 'things progress effectively, thus becoming an accountant. Good planning is necessary but without falling into the temptation of wanting to enclose or steer the freedom of the Holy Spirit... it is always easier and more convenient to fall back on static and unchanged positions'.
The disease of bad coordination
It is the disease of members who 'lose the community among them, and the Body loses its harmonious functionality' becoming 'an orchestra producing undisciplined noise because its members do not cooperate and do not live communally and have team spirit'.
The disease of spiritual Alzheimer's
That is 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'.
The disease of rivalry and vainglory
'When the appearance, the colour of the vestments and the honours become the first objectives of life... It is the disease that leads us to become false men and women, living a false "mysticism" and false "quietism"'.
The disease of existential schizophrenia
It is the disease of those who live 'a double life, a result of the hypocrisy typical of mediocre people and of advancing spiritual emptiness, which degrees or academic titles cannot fill'. It often strikes us that some 'abandon the pastoral service and limit their activities to bureaucracy, losing touch with reality and real people. They thus create their own parallel world, where they set aside all that the others harshly teach' and live a 'hidden' and often 'dissolute' life.
The disease of gossip and chatter'It takes hold of a person making them "sowers of discord" (like Satan), and, in many cases, "cold-blooded murderers" of the reputation of their colleagues and brothers. 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!'.
The disease of deifying the leaders
It is the disease of those who 'court their superiors', becoming victims of 'careerism and opportunism' and 'live their vocation thinking only of what they must gain and not of what they must give'. It might also affects the superiors 'when they court some of their collaborators in order to gain their submission, loyalty and psychological dependence, but the final result is real complicity'.
The disease of indifference to others
'When each one thinks only of themselves and loses the truthfulness and warmth of human relationships. When the more experienced ones do not offer their knowledge to the service of less experienced colleagues. When, because of jealousy or cunning, we rejoice in seeing others fall, rather than lift them up and encourage them'.
The disease of the funeral faceIt is the disease of people who are 'scowling and unfriendly and think that, in order to be serious, they must show a melancholic and strict face and treat others - especially those, whom they think are inferior - with rigidity, harshness and arrogance'. In reality, adds the Pope, 'theatrical strictness and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity about themselves. The apostle must strive to be a polite, serene, enthusiastic and joyful person...'. Francis invites people to be full of humour and self-irony; 'How beneficial a healthy dose of humour can be!'
The disease of hoarding'When the apostle seeks to fill an existential void in his heart by hoarding material possessions, not because of necessity, but only to feel secure'.
The disease of closed circlesWhen belonging to a clique becomes more important than belonging to the Body and, in some situations, than belonging to Christ himself. Even this disease starts from good intentions, but in time it enslaves all its members becoming "a cancer"'.
The disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism
'When the apostle turns his service into power, and his power into a commodity to gain worldly profits, or even more powers. It is the disease of those people who relentlessly seek to increase their powers. To achieve that, they may defame, slander and discredit others, even on newspapers and magazines. Naturally, that is in order to show off and exhibit their superiority to others'. A disease that 'badly hurts the Body because it leads people to justify the use of any means in order to fulfill their aim, often in the name of transparency and justice!'
Francis ended by recalling that he had once read that 'priests are like airplanes, they make the headlines only when they fall, but there are many who fly. Many criticize, and few pray for them'. He said this statement was 'very true, because it highlights the importance and the delicacy of our priestly ministry, and how much a single priest who 'falls' may hurt the whole body of the Church'.
And then there is this analysis of the above!
An analysis of the speech to the Curia. The Pope does not introduce a new project from the top but the way of mercy that the Church has always recommended in order to cure the 15 ‘diseases’GIANNI VALENTE Vatican City
In his traditional speech to the collaborators of the Roman Curia, a few days before Christmas, Pope Francis avoided customary evaluations of the past year and did not launch programmatic discussions or key words on which to realign the language and initiatives of the Vatican congregations. The Pope spoke to the heads of the Vatican congregations in the Curia about the life of the Curia and its ‘diseases’. His speech expounded a detailed, collective ‘examination of conscience’, recommended to cardinals, bishops and monsignors called to collaborate with him in the Vatican.
The Pope took on the role of spiritual father, educated at the school of St. Ignatius. He did not have any qualms about calling the pathologies, affecting his immediate surroundings, by their name. He did it with lucidity and ‘expertise’ of the object, frustrating once again the stereotype of the Latin-American alien who is not used to the ‘complexities’ of Rome and Europe, with which critics and neo-courtiers attempt to neutralise him. Pope Francis highlighted the root of the curial diseases, as well as providing an ample symptomatology and, above all, he suggested remedies. He started from the rediscovery of the nature of the Church as ‘Mystical Body’ of Christ, according to the consecrated form of Pius XII’s encyclicals ‘Mystici Corporis’.
The ‘Messiah complex’ is mostly responsible for these pathologies among ecclesiastics also in the Curia. This complex often takes over circles and ambitious ecclesiastics, used to putting the teaching about the necessity of grace on the backburner; a teaching already pronounced by Christ to his disciples. Pope Francis said that ‘it must be clear to us all that without Him we can do nothing’. Christmas, said Pope Francis to the officials of the Curia, is a favourable chance to rediscover this dynamic of grace told in the Gospel, because ‘it is also the festival of a light that is not welcomed by the “chosen people” but by the “poor and simple” who awaited the salvation of the Lord.’
The Pope claimed that temptation to self-sufficiency and feeling like ‘masters’ and creators of the presence of the Church in the world ‘are naturally a danger to every Christian and to every curia, community, congregation, parish and ecclesiastical movement and can strike both the individual and the community.’ Even in the Roman Curia, and in the ecclesiastical apparatus linked to it, this clerical presumption engenders pathologies, whose symptomatology Pope Francis listed in ample detail, reaching into the folds of daily life in the Vatican.
In some cases, it is not hard to deduce the names and actual faces of those, whom Pope Francis’ remarks are referred to. For instance when, recalling the case of an ‘elderly priest’, who called journalists to provide private information about his brothers, he spoke of those who ‘relentlessly attempt to multiply powers, and are capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, to show off their superiority to others.’
In his speech, Francis does not attribute these pathologies to past seasons of the Roman Curia. He does not demonise the time of Vatileaks to compare them to ‘new eras’ of Vatican history. The Pope speaks in the present tense. He does pull himself out. He does not exclude the possibility that even now the Roman Curia might be a place where, serving the Pope, you risk losing your faith to bad-tempered rancour and old and new courtiers. Above all, Francis does not conveniently dress up as the rigorous fustigator or the smug self-accuser. Rather, he suggests methods for healing. It is not a programme, a new pontifical ‘project’ from the top. It is the way of the Gospel and the healing powers of mercy that the Church has always recommended. Starting from the Sacrament of Confession. ‘It will do us good’ said Francis to bishops and cardinals, ‘to approach the Sacrament of Confession, since it hurts us to teach others about the necessity of this sacrament whilst we stay away from it.’ The Pope pinpoints the only antidote to the epidemics of those who ‘turn into masters and feel superior to everyone’, as ‘the grace of recognising ourselves as sinners and saying with our whole heart that “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”’ The Pope reminds those who fix upon planning and are keen on a self-sufficient Church, which controls its own relevance and mission in the world, about ‘the temptation of enclosing and steering the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which remains greater and more generous than any human plan. The Church shows itself faithful to the Holy Spirit insofar as it does not attempt to regulate and tame it… He is freshness, fantasy, originality.’
Even the unity and communion among collaborators of the Pope cannot be achieved through an effort of self-conscience, but flourishes in the rediscovery that only ‘the living relationship with God feeds and strengthens also our communion with others, whereby the more intimately united with God we are, the more united among us we become, because God’s Spirit unites and the devil’s spirit divides.’ Pope Francis recommends that everyone repeats often St. Thomas More’s prayer to preserve self-irony and a sense of limitations: ‘Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest. Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humour to maintain it… Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called “I”.’