Monday, December 22, 2014


I'm not sure this is the way to win friends and influence enemies. His Holiness words are either courageous or foolhardy; his words are either prophetic or foolish. I'm not sure what to think other than ouch!

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'

  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’

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”.’


Gene said...

Absolute homiletical garbage. A social work sermon by a Sociaslist. Not one mention of God's sovereignty, not one mention of the Miracle and Mystery of the Virgin Birth, not one word about redemption or salvation, not a hint of Christology…nothing. If this guy doesn't make sedevacantists of us all I'll be surprised. I would rather have heard a warmed over Billy Graham Christmas sermon…at least I know he believes.

CPT Tom said...

I'm an orthodox Catholic, and I am REALLY confused by our Pope...was this really necessary? Just before Christmas? I've commanded troops, and this kind of unceasing criticism is going to have an effect. People will shut down, and they will ignore him. In the Army they taught us you kick the troops in the butt sometimes, but, you also get ready with the talcum powder. You sometimes tear them down but then you build them up. That's coming right? He isn't helping him or the Church, especially the PUBLIC criticism. We have real public scandals that are going unaddressed because of "pastoral" concerns, like the Nuns on the bus and but he chooses to blasts away at tradition and orthodoxy. He also misses the fact that he is in danger of having some of the illnesses that he rails against. I am just aghast. This is really's like he is saying nothing has been done before he showed up. This is a very narcissistic position that is unseemly for a Pope.

Yogi O'Hara said...

May I suggest a 16th Disease?

There is the Disease of Presumption: When one presumes to know the heart and mind of the person he is judging and criticizing.

From what I can read of this homily, someone indeed presumes a great deal about a number of people. Perhaps he could benefit (as your artwork suggests) from reading these words of the Godfather of Self-Help, Dale Carnegie:

You can tell a man he is wrong by a look or an intonation or a gesture just as eloquently as you can in words--and if you tell him he is wrong, do you make him want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct blow to his pride, his self-respect. That will make him want to strike back. But it will never make him want to change his mind. You may then hurl at him all the logic of a Plato or an Immanuel Kant, but you will not alter his opinion, for you have hurt his feelings.

Never begin by announcing 'I am going to prove so and so to you.' That's bad. That's tantamount to saying, 'I'm smarter than you are. I'm going to tell you a thing or two and make you change your mind.'

That is a challenge. That arouses opposition, and makes the listener want to battle with you before you even start.

It is difficult, even under the most benign conditions, to change people's minds. So why make it harder? Why handicap yourself?

If you are going to prove anything, don't let anybody know it. Do it so subtly, so adroitly that no one will ell that you are doing it."

'Men must be taught as if you taught them not And things unknown proposed as things forgot.'

As Lord Chesterfield said to his son:

'Be wiser than other people, if you can; but do not tell them so.'

If you want to send a copy of the book to His Holiness, I'll volunteer to pay the postage.

Templar said...

Where are fitz Urse, de Morville, de Tracy, and le Breton when you really need them?

Православный физик said...

I've discovered, in order to keep my sanity, I need to ignore Rome.

Anonymous said...

He just publicly humiliated those people who work most closely with him. Not exactly a smart move. My crystal ball tells me we will see the stories about his invalid election increase. Seriouslly, does he not know that those clerics who were willing to give him a pass as long as he didn't intefere with their lives will now actively work to undermine him. He is delusional if he thinks that is not going to happen. My my he does seem to judge people a lot.

Marie said...

I don't know what to say.
Maybe someone should think of inventing a hi-tech digital, hand-free head scratcher that automatically reaches for your head each time our Pope speaks.

WSquared said...

I think he's spot on, actually, and nobody here should feel disheartened or singled out.

Francis has effectively outlined a thorough, very sober examination of conscience-- and a game plan. No reason to be alarmed or confused that he would say any of these things "just before Christmas." The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation are such wondrous gifts. But how prepared are our hearts to really receive and appreciate them? Given the excessive activity of "Christmas creep," I can relate: just the other week, someone implied that a lack of enthusiasm for Christmas busy-ness in the middle of Advent, for Heaven's sake means that my husband and I somehow "don't care about Christmas."

But really: do we not recognize ourselves in some of these diseases and temptations that he raises? Pope Francis has said often enough that some of the faults that he names are also true of himself. Hence the reason why the Pope also goes to Confession (nothing different from JP2 or B16 here)-- and during Advent, too-- just like the rest of us. I am also undergoing a pretty rough time where I am exhausted, and so much is uncertain on so many levels; what Francis describes can feel like a vise grip, so his words come as much-needed encouragement. He more or less describes the effects of American corporate ethos, if not Americanism, period.

Those who lean traditionalist might realize that if they think that Pope Francis is specifically targeting them, those criticisms also apply just as much to those in the progressive camp. The criticisms where traditionalists now feel the pinch whereas progressives complacently think that Francis is on side with their agenda actually cut in two directions simultaneously.

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'.

That sounds like a description of sloppy liturgy, right there, which Francis does not celebrate, but which way too many suburban parishes do.

The disease of closed circles. When 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"'.

B16 mentioned this, too, only he was far more specific about it: he wrote that those who hive themselves off into little cliques spoil the Eucharist for others.

I frankly don't know how anyone could feel "comfortable" under Benedict XVI, only to now feel "uncomfortable" under Francis. Or is the only thing that matters to us is that the Pope, whoever he is, should make only people whom we "don't like" feel uncomfortable?

Gene said...

Wsquared, spin, spin, spin. But, you did an admirable job of trying to make chicken salad...

Anonymous said...

I think he must have been thinking about the original band of eight that he appointed to the family synod?

What sin is it when you could care less about what color vestment you wear and you're completely indifferent about whether your liturgy is pleasing to God?


CPT Tom said...

WSquared. If that is what he meant to do, he needs to come out and say it. What he actually said was extremely critical and blew up many bridges that he needs to succeed in whatever he has planned. For a Pope who has been timid to call himself "Pope" and chatters on about "collegiality" this was not "collegial" in the least. This was a boat load of vinegar and it paints with a broad bush. He can not do this, not at this time where the Church is under attack from within and without. He needs to be specific--"this is for the progressives, and this is for the traditionalists" etc. There has been so much confusion these last 50 years it would have been helpful if he had continued the clarity of Benedict, not the vagueness of Paul VI. He has disheartened the Traditionalists, and emboldened the progressives, not to recognize that is disingenuous. Whether he meant to or not this is what is going on.

Pater Ignotus said...

WSquared - Well said. The bureaucracy of any organization tends, over time, to become rather inward looking, self-congratulating, and self-sustaining. For an organization -the Church - that is established to be outward-looking, this kind of moribund leadership has to be fought against regularly.

The cardinals chose an outsider who might, if reports are to be believed, have the distance and the stamina to effect real reform in the Curial morass that stymies Roman dicasteries.

I recall John Thavis, veteran Vaticanologist, reporting on how the various offices knew next to nothing about what the others were up to, what they were working on, or what was being implemented.

I agree that much of the blowback to this address comes from the fact that we see in ourselves many of the "diseases" that Francis mentions. I think that if we don't, we are simply fooling ourselves and falling into the same weltschmerz that, I suspect, is rampant in Roman offices.

Anyone for a Campari and soda and some three-cheese gnocchi?

newguy40 said...

Templar said, "Where are fitz Urse, de Morville, de Tracy, and le Breton when you really need them?"

If you are suggesting that the Holy Father is in need of what these men provided, I would respectfully suggest that you are in need of confession.
A truly horrible thing to say even in jest.

Православный физик said...

To points 11 and 12, are those insults to those that are generally of an introverted disposition? To those that do not gain their energy from people interaction, or generally have reserved expressions, those words were downright discouraging, insulting, and outright repulsive.

Also to point 8, not all are called to be “in the world” what about those that were called to religious life, but for all intents and purposes were dragged out, for insert reason here? Or to those that were called to work in academia, someone has to…

A Blessed Christmas season indeed…The little book of insults just got a huge collection added just in time for the holidays.

Anonymous said...

At least he believes in the Sacrament of Reconciliation!

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Francis' prophesy is being received as graciously as were the prophets of old. Not with introspection and prayer but anger and hardening of the heart.

Our Lord is merciful and patient so He send us prophets to remind us where He wants us to go and where we are actually headed, if we continue to see and refuse to believe and hear but not understand.

Here is a proposition. Take it as you will. If you are a man or woman of God and criticism only inflames your anger, spend a little more time in communion with the Holy Spirit and try and find out if your reaction is justified.

Truth hurts. Then again, so do lies. When we are hurt, our typical reaction is anger. Anger diminishes our ability to discern truth from lies and we open ourselves to the Enemy.

I pray for Pope Francis and everyone who hears his words and only feel anger.

Anonymous 2 said...


I agree with Pater: Well said. Before I got to your comment I was thinking: “Oh dear, here we go again – the usual litany of Francis bashing because he has struck another nerve.” And then I got to your comment and felt immediately encouraged again. Thank you.

Gene said...

I don't think people are complaining because Francis struck a nerve. They are complaining because he is offering stones instead of bread.

JusadBellum said...

Gene, you keep interpreting his words as though he's directing his fire at good conservatives rather than the gay mafia.

Read those words in the key of "this is directed at the known gay mafia we know exist in the Curia" and see how it reads!

Suddenly every critique of the Pope makes sense as gay activists are leading a double life, they do destroy people indirectly via gossip, they are vain, they do engage in co-dependent activities. They are prone to be workaholics (because it allows for their double-lives).... etc.

Pater Ignotus said...

Jus - And you think that straight people don't lead double lives, don't gossip, aren't vain, don't engage in co-dependent activities, and don't become work-a-holics? If you heard confessions, you might think otherwise.

The Pope's words are directed, without regard to sexual orientation, at those who need to hear them and be reformed by grace.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't think it was just to the so-called gay cabal, but to all who orient themselves away from God and the good of Holy Mother Church.

But the problem with so much of what Pope Francis says is that it allows others to interpret it in any old way and thus a blanket castigation en masse of all the cardinals, bishops and others of the curia in that room is somewhat puzzling and uncharitable given the fact that now gossip is taking place about this, that or the other who might be having sex with these, those and the others no matter their gender or age. It is shocking for a pope to allow this to happen and for the world to now be gossiping about it.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

However, I think we can safely say that Pope Francis is one of the most judgmental popes ever and i mean ever as one as one of the most polarizing.

Gene said...

PI, yeah, but straight people are not fundamentally cognitively disordered and they don't stick their…well, you know. Neither do they flaunt their aberrant sexuality publicly or belittle normal heterosexual marriage.

Anonymous 2 said...

Perhaps I am just not able to read between the lines or am naïve but I do not see where Pope Francis says anything explicitly about his audience’s sexual lives and he is quite clear in naming gossip as one of the diseases.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Although it may not have the same connotation in Italian, to say that a cleric is living a double life means he is not being faithful to his promise or vow of celibacy/chastity.