Pope Francis greets Curia for Christmas, and rips them to shreds

14_12_22_Francis_Curia_01Each year it is customary for the Roman Pontiff to meet and greet members of the Roman Curia just before Christmas. The Pope gives an address. Often that address is a kind of “State of the Union”, describing things that occurred and prospect for the future. In 2005 Benedict XVI famously used the occasion to deliver one of the most important addresses of many modern pontificates. He spoke of the proper interpretive principles to apply to the Second Vatican Council.

Today Pope Francis also addressed the Curia. I just finished watching the video. It seemed to me, frankly, to be more like a Lenten retreat delivered to Jesuit novices than a Christmas greeting to seasoned churchman, his closest collaborators in his Petrine Ministry.

Francis went through a long list of sins during his prolonged examination of their consciences for them.

The list of the Curia’s spiritual sins? Here they are, as compressed by AP:

Pope Francis listed 15 “ailments” of the Vatican Curia during his annual Christmas greetings to the cardinals, bishops, and priests who run the central administration of the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. Here’s the list.

1) Feeling immortal, immune or indispensable. “A Curia that doesn’t criticize itself, that doesn’t update itself, that doesn’t seek to improve itself is a sick body.”
2) Working too hard. “Rest for those who have done their work is necessary, good and should be taken seriously.”
3) Becoming spiritually and mentally hardened. “It’s dangerous to lose that human sensibility that lets you cry with those who are crying, and celebrate those who are joyful.”
4) Planning too much. “Preparing things well is necessary, but don’t fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan.”
5) Working without coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. “When the foot tells the hand, ‘I don’t need you’ or the hand tells the head, ‘I’m in charge.’”
6) Having ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s.’ “We see it in the people who have forgotten their encounter with the Lord … in those who depend completely on their here and now, on their passions, whims and manias, in those who build walls around themselves and become enslaved to the idols that they have built with their own hands.”
7) Being rivals or boastful. “When one’s appearance, the color of one’s vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life.”
8) Suffering from ‘existential schizophrenia.’ “It’s the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of hypocrisy that is typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that academic degrees cannot fill. It’s a sickness that often affects those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic work, losing contact with reality and concrete people.”
9) Committing the ‘terrorism of gossip.’ “It’s the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people’s backs.”
10) Glorifying one’s bosses. “It’s the sickness of those who court their superiors, hoping for their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honor people who aren’t God.”
11) Being indifferent to others. “When, out of jealousy or cunning, one finds joy in seeing another fall rather than helping him up and encouraging him.”
12) Having a ‘funereal face.’ “In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity. The apostle must be polite, serene, enthusiastic and happy and transmit joy wherever he goes.”
13) Wanting more. “When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he’ll feel more secure.”
14) Forming ‘closed circles’ that seek to be stronger than the whole. “This sickness always starts with good intentions but as time goes by, it enslaves its members by becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body and causes so much bad — scandals — especially to our younger brothers.”
15) Seeking worldly profit and showing off. “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”

Sort of, “Merry Christmas, you vain, hypocritical, funeral faces!”

Mind you, these are just the bullet points. Every point was explained, with citations, in the address of over 3100 words, which took about 32 minutes. There are 20 footnotes. HERE

The Holy Father then went around the room to greet all the Cardinals present.

Veteran Vatican watcher John Allen reported:

“I have to say, I didn’t feel great walking out of that room today,” one senior Vatican official said, who had been in the Vatican’s Sala Clementina for the speech and who spoke on the condition he not be identified.

“I understand that the pope wants us to live up to our ideals, but you wonder sometimes if he has anything positive to say about us at all,” the official said, who’s been in Vatican service for more than two decades.

For the record, this was an official who describes himself as an “enthusiast” over the direction being set by Pope Francis.

The body language on Monday among the cardinals and archbishops who make up the Vatican’s power structure suggest that reaction wasn’t isolated. There were few smiles as the pope spoke and only mild applause; since Francis delivered the address in Italian, it wasn’t because his audience didn’t understand.

Having watched the video, I too thought that the reception of the speech and, afterward, of the Pope himself as he went around the room, was muted and even tense.

One can only guess what fruits this examination of conscience will produce.  Time will tell.

On the other hand, Pope Francis also met with the workers and collaborators of the Vatican City State and addressed them. HERE  The meeting was held in the Paul VI audience hall.  It had a decidedly different feeling, although he told them that he had just addressed the heads of the curial offices.  He told all the workers to look at that text, to examine their consciences and to GO TO CONFESSION.

Francis used again the image of the Curia as a body that needs care, indeed, which is sick and needs remedies.  He then gave them, too, a list of 10 things that he wanted them all to “take care of… curare”.   Some of them were basic, and common sense items that lay people need to attend to.  It was the sort of thing that one might hope to hear in a parish pulpit.

Then, at the end, he said (to the workers, not the curial heads):

Non voglio finire queste parole di augurio senza chiedervi perdono per le mancanze, mie e dei collaboratori, e anche per alcuni scandali, che fanno tanto male. Perdonatemi.

I don’t want to conclude these words of greeting without asking pardon of you for shortcomings, mine and those of my collaborators, and also for some scandals, which do great harm.  Forgive me.

The moderation queue is ON.

I’ll probably save up a lot of comments for release at the same time, so that each of you are posting individual thoughts, rather than feeding on each other.

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76 Responses to Pope Francis greets Curia for Christmas, and rips them to shreds

  1. Polycarpio says:

    Saying that he “tore them to shreds” was probably intended as hyperbole, but it could be misleading to folks that rely on characterizations of what the Pope said, as opposed to reading or hearing his actual remarks. The whole thing came across to me as a “friendly reminder” of temptations to avoid, couched in the context of “these things really have happened and are not just theoretical considerations” to be sure, but never implied to be a reflection of the conduct of everyone in the room, or anything like that. The Pope’s remark at the end, about priests being like airplanes, who only make the news when they fall, I thought was instructive about how the whole thing was intended. And I am always skeptical of pieces written based on “the body language” of those who were there. I saw the video of the Pope greeting everyone afterwards and it looked pretty darn chummy. Even with Card. Burke, he seemed to linger and there seemed to be a lot of friendly banter back and forth about some particular topic.

  2. AnnTherese says:

    A good examination of conscience for all of us!

  3. GabrielSerafin says:

    This address of the pope toward the Roman Curia was probably long overdue. In the Gospels we never hear Jesus congratulating any of His apostles; instead He is constantly exhorting his apostles tom shun mediocrity and worldliness. Pope Francis is a blessing from God, thus the Father of Lies is quite busy distorting and slandering the words of Holy Father and twisting his intentions. Incidentally, a website called francisreport.com is great for reliable sources on what the pope actually said.

  4. wolfeken says:

    Who am I to judge?

    I guess it depends on the sin with this pope.

  5. LarryW2LJ says:

    Maybe #16 should have been:

    “Don’t be overly critical. It is not a good thing to discourage those who are using their God given time, talents and treasures in order to do the very best job they can.”

  6. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    Get the impression he’s a bit fed up? (John 21:18)

  7. Phil_NL says:

    With all due respect, I’m afraid His Holiness has two options:
    – either he reads some management books
    – or he’ll soon be figuring in some.

    Moreover, if he really believes all of this is true, he should fire the lot. If he doesn’t, expect #12 and #14 especially to get worse, not to mention #8 and #9.

    (or, all of this was just aimed to speed up confessions in the Vatican “7 times #2, 13 times #3, #5 daily,….” and some secretary got the dates mixed up, and thought it was April first. If only…)

  8. McCall1981 says:

    I think this is good news, in a way. The more he needlessly creates animosity, the more resistance there will be to his “reforms” in the Synod.

  9. acardnal says:

    I liked the Pope’s speech. I’d like to see the President – any President – give a similar speech to the federal bureaucrats and Congress.

  10. Joseph-Mary says:

    Sorry to say but this pope is usually criticizing somebody—even if we cannot always figure out who. He has some real creativity with his name calling too!

  11. amont says:

    I find it rather curious that the Sovereign Pontiff who was so clearly lacking in control and failed to give proper direction during the recent Synod in Rome, can come down so heavily upon other targets; i.e.the Vatican administration. Certainly there can be a degree of inertia in any such system; Pope Emeritus Benedict did seem to encounter a lot of this-as you have related Father Z. However; Pope Francis is certainly “discriminating” both here and in other situations (The Franciscan Friars, the overly “Military” commander of the Swiss Guards etc.) whom he chooses to attack with no lack zeal .

  12. xgenerationcatholic says:

    I thought he was supposed to be all about mercy.

  13. catholictrad says:

    How about some coal in you stocking?

  14. 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.

  15. ChesterFrank says:

    Considering this made national news, it must have been quite the shredding. It made me grin a bit though as it reminded me of the traditional fire and brimstone sermons of my youth.

  16. Cavaliere says:

    The worst type of leader in any organization is the one who “flock shoots” to address any problem or situation. There is no surer way to lose the morale and support of your employees than this method of control. There were a couple of other thoughts that came to mind, one being to remove the beam from your own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brothers. The other is related to the comment from one of the curial officials, doesn’t he ever say anything good about anyone?

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    I feel a kinship with Pope Francis, because I also like to write long, elaborated laundry lists of things I think need to be fixed at my parish. I have been told this is very off-putting and discourages people, and not to do it. In fact I was told “just say whatever the suggestion is in one sentence.” Now I feel free to keep doing this based on Pope Francis’ example. Thanks for your leadership, Pope Francis. Either that or at least I have some company in my flaws.

  18. Sonshine135 says:

    We are beginning to see that Pope Francis is not as fluffy as he appears to be on the outside. I know the Curia has problems, but I am extremely surprised at the tone in a Christmas message.

    I also read in a different article (Yahoo! News) where the Pope mentioned people who don’t take time off to be with family are overly stressed, and those who plan everything to a “T” don’t allow themselves to be surprised by the “freshness, fantasy and novelty” of the Holy Spirit.

    I’m sure quite a few were left scratching their heads.

  19. asophist says:

    I remember reading, or hearing, some years ago that the Curia has had hundreds of years to become a place of intrigues, cliques and backbiting, but I regarded that as not proof that it had indeed become such (although, humans being what we are, I wouldn’t be too surprised). Francis’ speech to the Curia seems to bear out some truth to what I had long ago heard. What is more interesting to me is that Francis asked pardon for shortcomings and scandals perpetrated by himself and his collaborators. I can’t imagine what may have prompted such a plea (unless he is referring to the the recent Synod fiasco). It inspires me to pray all the more that God guide Francis and his pontificate. Ea Domine dirige.

  20. trespinos says:

    I wonder why the Holy Father did not use his well-documented three points method. Using fifteen points risks turning his listeners’ attention off. If a supervisor of mine during my working years had chosen to discuss fifteen of my shortcomings, I’m fairly certain he would have failed to get my collaboration on improving more than one or two of them.

    I can’t picture Our Lord taking this approach with the Apostles or the seventy. At this rate, when the Pontiff submits his resignation and returns to Argentina, the number of tears shed by his collaborators is likely to be comparatively small.

  21. Lin says:

    How demoralizing to be publicly humiliated! Why not air his grievances with them on a one-to-one basis and in private?!? Group floggings are NEVER fair and seldom produce the desired results. The main stream media loved it!

  22. Dave N. says:

    Sounds like something approaching an ultimatum. The pope is telling the curia either to shape up or get out (or as a last resort, someone will graciously help you find the door).

  23. Thorfinn says:

    At the risk of gossiping, I think we can now safely deduce the real reason for Cardinal Burke’s transfer to a less demanding position:

    He had been working too hard (Curial sin #2) and is being given the penance of rest!

  24. William Tighe says:

    After what Fr. Hunwicke posted, I have nothing more to add:

    http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2014/12/christmas-address-to-curia.html

  25. texsain says:

    The kitten has claws.

  26. Maltese says:

    My dad, a Deist, after that speech said that his four greatest role models in the world today are:

    1) President Obame
    2) Muhammed Ali
    3) Pope Francis

    I kid you not, the world loves this Pope, but isn’t the Church supposed to be the defense against the world, which is Satan’s Kingdom (in a sense, and for a short-time)?

  27. Gerard Plourde says:

    The situation in the Curia appears to be similar to that that plagues academic institutions. Often academic departments staffed with many tenured professors will devolve into rival camps based on the clash of personalities forced by circumstances to interact closely over a long period of time. We should redouble our prayers for the members of the Curia that they not succumb to this all-too-human fault. At the same time we should pray for the intentions of Pope Francis that the Holy Spirit guide him prudentially in his task as Vicar of Christ to keep the Church faithful to its mission to bring the Good News of God’s love, justice and mercy to a world that sorely needs it.

  28. One of those TNCs says:

    On the face of it, one wonders why there are objections to his words. Of course, as a “Have a Merry Christmas!” message, it brings more depression than joy … and yet …

    Any yet, aren’t we always clamoring for our clergy to “get a backbone” and “tell it to us straight, no sugar-coating, no coddling?” When we finally do hear a message like this, it isn’t easy to take.

    Medicine generally isn’t.

    Especially when we know in our hearts that we are guilty of the very “ailments” Pope Francis pointed out. Yes, I know that some are pretty pointed and it’s obvious about whom he was referring. In our fallen natures, it is “natural” that our hackles will be raised in self-defense when our own sins are being exposed. Yet, isn’t this what a good shepherd is supposed to do?

    Ezekiel warns us about the consequences of looking the other way when our brother sins (Ez 3:18-19; 33:7-12) Read also Galatians 6:1. Perhaps when more of us gently reprove and correct our fellow man, we will see the transformations that we all desire.

  29. Susan M says:

    It’s almost as if he has Tourette Syndrome – just blurting out thoughts without thinking. However, this outburst seems more like typical leftist chopping down of the hierarchy and raising up of the little people reminiscent of the French Revolution.

  30. Rich says:

    Pope Francis’ Syllabus of Ailments

  31. lampada says:

    In my encounters with the curia, my impression is that the 80/20 rule can be broadly applied, namely, that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. Therefore point #2 seemed rather out of touch as Italians don’t have the same workaholic tendencies as other nationalities and the pope should have scolded them for a more relaxed work environment. There are more holidays and partial days for Vatican workers than in the USA.

  32. tm30 says:

    I’ve gone back and forth on the Holy Father for several months, and I’m literally at the point of being ashamed that I’m a Catholic who loves the faith, loves the saints, loves Tradition, loves Aquinas and Augustine and Ratzinger and chant and monks who roast coffee and nuns who wear habits and are full of youth and joy. Is there a place for people like me in this “field hospital”? Do I owe an apology to Francis? If I apologize, will he stop telling everyone how miserable we all are and how worthy of his love and favor we would be if we were just materially poor and out of work and can do the tango and belong to soccer clubs? What is it he wants? I don’t know anymore. It doesn’t feel like Catholicism. It feels like Club Francis. And it makes me desperately sad to say such a thing. I’m just utterly confused at this point…. Please pray for me.

  33. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I can’t help seeing two prominent cardinals in his comments.

    Cardinal Burke, who went quietly to the Knights of Malta.
    Cardinal Kasper who apparently lied, threatened journalists, and exercised his cardinalatial muscle to get an article removed from a diocesan website.

    Which one of these fits His Holiness’ way of behaving?

  34. JLC says:

    St. Pope John Paul II was an actor, and knew how to deliver a message both to the audience in front of him and the secondary audience. It seems to me that he knew how to make sure the appropriate message got to the right audience.
    Pope Benedict XVI is a professor who teaches both to the audience in front of him and the secondary audience, and there was rarely a difference in message between the two.
    Pope Francis seems to have a more intimate speaking style, that is, he’s narrowly focused on the audience in front of him and tries to tailor the message to what that audience needs to here. There appears to be no consideration for the secondary audience. If he wants another audience to get a part of a message, he referrences himself, as he did here, or when he refers people back to his encyclical.
    These are very different styles, and Pope Francis’ style is less suited to the hyper-information age when every utterance is echoed around the world multiple times and parsed carefully for its layers of meaning for primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences. If he’s tailoring his mesage narrowly to the audience in front of him, it is fruitless (and confusing) to try and peel back layers of meaning that just aren’t there.

  35. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    I have seen this technique before and it is counterproductive. The innocent feel unjustly blamed and the guilty hide in the crowd. If the pope knows people in the Curia with these behaviors, why doesn’t he talk to them individually and directly or have their superiors do it?

    Why do I detect a note of grandstanding and using the defenseless Curia as a prop? I really hope that is not what is going on here. No doubt these problems exist to some degree and should be addressed, but I question whether this is the way to do it.

  36. It’s been said on news outlets that Pope Francis is to the Catholic Church what Obama is to America. The whole idea of forcing change on unwilling participants is a bit excessive. I understand the need to better ourselves and to grow out of bad habits. Everybody in the Church gets this part, I hope. We experience spiritual growth during Advent, Lent, daily prayer, etc. But being Saints takes a lifetime. Getting lectures from either Obama or Francis about how bad we are reveals character. It reveals that there is an impatient dissatisfaction with the overall populace of either America or the Roman Catholic Church, respectively. We are all in need of a compass to set our course, most fair minded people understand that. But what Francis and Obama are doing by constantly running down the people they govern and degrading them is just not productive. It isn’t inspiring. It isn’t uplifting. It’s quite demoralizing.

  37. Gratias says:

    It is most disconcerting. But most people love what Pope Francis has to say. Who am I to judge?

    As a Neo-Pelagian hypocrite I will continue trying to build the Traditional Church with the gifts I was given. It will all that will survive of Christian civilization. I expect a smaller Church but the Spirit will live on even in the catacombs. Surprisingly, the TLM continues to grow, slowly, in the USA. I expect the English speaking peoples will be the repository the Irish monasteries were during the Middle Ages. We will have a Midnight Solemn mass (i.e., three priests) on Christmas Eve in Los Angeles (St. Victors’s church in West Hollywood, a block away from the Sunset Strip). Who would have thought this possible?

    The apostolate of Father Z has sustained many of us here, so thanks and like Tiny Tim said:

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

  38. Mary T says:

    This whole event made me extremely sad. I know a few people, priests and religious, who work in the Vatican and I really feel for them. They are very holy, orthodox, Christ-centered people. I think there was some hope that the Pope would clean up remnants of the…shall we say a certain “mafia”…but not that he would attack everyone without exception, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. And maybe the mother too. And at Christmas.

    You know, it’s funny – the press presented Pope Benedict as a mean-spirited, authoritarian, etc. Yet I don’t recall him doing things like this, nor did my friends every say they felt confused, nor of being fearful that a blast would fall on them, a blast that appears irrational in its timing and sweep.

    Father Z, it’s fine if you do not publish these comments. Maybe I am just expressing my sadness to you. I am not “against the Pope.” He is our Holy Father. But this is very, very painful. I miss the loving kindness of Pope Benedict. He was a man even the baristas in Rome loved (when they knew him as Cardinal). I never saw the kind of angry attack on fellow Catholics that worm their way into almost everything Francis writes.

  39. Warren says:

    Things must be bad.

    I’ve learned in 24 years of teaching that such a dressing down is usually a sign of desperation. As a college teacher, I have known only one occasion during my career when I had to give a public dressing down to an entire class for disruptive and disrespectful behaviour. I blame myself for letting things get to the point where one student’s poisonous attitude and misbehaviour brought other students into conflict with me and other professors. It only takes one bad apple to ruin the bushel.

    I can only imagine what it might be like at the Vatican where who knows how many bad apples are contributing to a climate of mediocrity and conflict (gossip, careerism, lethargy, etc.). Once in a blue moon, the nuclear option may be required to create an opportunity for improvement.

    To state that the Holy Father has a big job on his hands is without a doubt a huge understatement. Apparently, he has inherited something of a mess and, if I may speak candidly and with all due respect for our Holy Father, perhaps his way of doing things has not helped. I.e., perhaps his approach has permitted things to get worse. As little understanding that I possess of Vatican goings on, mere peon that I am, Papa Bergoglio might have to exert a much tighter grip on the reigns than he has previously been comfortable exercising. Perhaps this recent action is a sign he is adjusting his modus operandi. Thanks be to God, he (and we) can ask the Holy Spirit for help.

  40. Tim Ferguson says:

    You better not plan,
    You better not frown,
    You better not cut some Cardinal down,
    Pope Francis is coming to town.
    Prometheans and Pelagians too,
    all the bad kids are getting their due,
    Pope Francis is coming to town.

    He hears you spreading gossip,
    he knows when you’re on break,
    he doesn’t like that cappa,
    take it off for goodness sake!

    Oh, you better not gripe,
    you better not moan,
    he’s calling at random – stay by your phone,
    Pope Francis is coming to town!

  41. rafferju says:

    LOL very good Tim. But I’m confused again, I thought for those that were trying to make their way to Christ who am I to judge. its hard to keep up.

  42. Bosco says:

    Rather than 15 reasons to castigate the Curia, and both in keeping with the public tenor of Francis and the season, may I suggest “16 reasons” and a tone (below) which might have been more apropos? After all it is said you catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPbSYJ1LNl0

  43. govmatt says:

    These aren’t the type of ailments treated at a “field hospital.”

  44. Netmilsmom says:

    I am speechless. Is it a good idea to call out your employees in such a public way? At Christmas?
    I’m glad I don’t work for him.

  45. The Drifter says:

    Pope Adrian VI had similar gripes with the Roman Curia. Nihil sub sole novi.

  46. Eugene says:

    Well I didn’t think he could do it but he even managed to insult accountants ( my profession) in his speech.
    I think the quoted response from a curial official about the speech is very telling.
    I remain lost, confused, and sometimes very angry over the words and actions of His Holiness, something I have never experienced towards a pope before. May God have mercy on me and His shepherds!

  47. Quanah says:

    His words struck me as more Lenten in character too, which is why I am going to use them for reflections this coming Lent.

  48. sweetnay says:

    awesome. reform is needed.

  49. chantgirl says:

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    Seriously, I was going to try to make a promethean pelagian ornament for my Christmas tree, but can’t quite figure out if it would be a man or a single-celled organism. Any ideas?

  50. pjthom81 says:

    National Review did…well, a review of a book that examines Pope Francis’ reforming style…and I think it appears clear that he views himself as a reformer. The book seems to say that (and here I grossly over-simplify) Pope Francis is opposed to anything, liberal or conservative, that smacks of elite opinion and that he is attempting to, as a good Jesuit, take the whole Church through St. Ignatius’ spiritual exercises. The review may be found here: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/393526/reframing-pope-francis-gospel-radical-he-kathryn-jean-lopez

    I am not Jesuit educated, however it appears to me that it may be week 1 for the laity and week 2 for the curia in his mind. Any chance the author is on to something?

  51. mamajen says:

    I haven’t read through the other comments yet, but here’s my view. As a blogger, I’ve seen many other bloggers using this time of year to reflect on the past year (especially their shortcomings), and contemplate what they want to improve in the coming year. So, while the timing may seem off to some, I can see Pope Francis’ address in that light. It’s very nearly the end of the year, but for Catholics, we really want to better people for Christmas, not January 1st. If this gets people who have been doing wrong to repent and try to better themselves in time for Christmas, and beyond, GOOD!

    I also like this because it shows that he is definitely NOT “Pope Fluffy”. A lot of people “go soft” at Christmastime. We see people who go to mass once or twice per year trot up for communion, and no priest has said he shouldn’t, etc. The “spirit of Christmas” is not about feeling all warm and fuzzy and ignoring important things until later.

    This also seems to show that he isn’t reserving his ire for the ones who oppose his (supposed) agenda, since even his supporters expressed their dismay.

    Had I been in the room listening, as an employee, I probably would have felt like “WOMP, WOMP” as well. But as an outsider looking in, I like to see Pope Francis being tough about problems that have been plaguing the Church. The curia aren’t all bad, but when you’re part of a group, sometimes you have to take criticism as a group, too.

  52. Fuquay Steve says:

    Decency is hereby withdrawn. Let the whipping begin.

    Very sad, very small and very divisive.

  53. danidunn says:

    Wow. What a lot of negative comments directed towards the Vicar of Christ. By Catholics, no less.

    And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has claimed power over you all, so that he can sift you like wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; when, after a while, thou hast come back to me, it is for thee to be the support of thy brethren.

    Jesus gave Peter the responsibility to support the other apostles, not the other way around. And, he certainly did not give the sheep the responsibility to correct the shepherd. In this message, I think we can see even more clearly why Cardinal Burke was demoted. If the curia can do without Cardinal Burke then any of the members of the curia are replaceable.

    I think he should have just delivered today’s Fr. Z podcast to the curia. To me, it was much more succinct.


    The reversal of values found in the figure of Jesus Christ and His message. From the moment of His birth he belongs outside the realm of what is important and powerful in worldly terms…One aspect of becoming a Christian is having to leave behind what everybody else thinks and wants, the prevailing standards, in order to enter the light and truth…

    How is Pope Francis’ message any different than that?

  54. beej says:

    To the curia I would just like to say, “suck it up, NANCY.” The laity are usually expected to put money in the collection basket after a sermon like that.

  55. Gus Barbarigo says:

    I hope this criticism is warranted. I kind of seems like HH is setting up a straw man and knocking him down, i.e., setting up negative press against the people who have devoted their lives to serving the Church, in advance of splintering the Barq of Peter into little episcopal conferences around the world.

  56. JuliB says:

    Tim Ferguson +1

    I am with Joe of St Thérèse. I am a quiet introvert who certainly doesn’t radiate joy. In fact, I have what fashion blogs call ‘RBF’ (Resting B!tch Face – google it). People will come up and ask me if something is wrong because I look angry and I have to reply – ‘I’m fine, this is just how my face is.’ I try to remember to smile but it isn’t easy.

    I love cranky saints (eg St. Jerome) and short-tempered workers in the vineyard such as Mother Angelica because they give me hope. I was at a parish mission where the dynamic outgoing priest stating that we try not to be like St. Jerome. I was quite offended by it. I’m trying my best to become more holy, but I will never be able to fit into an extrovert’s vision of how all people should be.

    I doubt Pope Francis would care for my demeanor at all but this is how God made me. I TRY to put myself out as a cheerful Christian but it goes against my temperament.

    This speech, while in part necessary (but I question its timing), saddens me.

  57. templariidvm says:

    I am only going to comment on one area, otherwise it would be a book.
    “Terrorism of gossip”. A bit hyperbolic. Gossip is sinful. Terrorism is a whole different world of sinful. I wait for the Pope to cry out to the world that the very real terrorism of ISIS must be stopped – not that the bad men must decide that they will quit – but that they must be stopped. The Christians and Muslims alike, in that region are being slaughtered. My question is if it is sinful to ignore what is going on?

    I totally understand his point of criticizing the curia and attempting to reform it. I think he also needs to broaden his focus and understand that his words carry weight. Use that for a better world.

  58. I think the points of his message could be addressed to the WORLD, not just the Curia, as we could all use reminders of appropriate lives in Christ and we so seldom hear this kind of message where it belongs – from the ambo. I’m struggling to understand (if it is my place to even do so) who the audience for this really was as I don’t believe this was the appropriate venue for a correctional talk to the Princes of the Church. I’m afraid to admit I’m suspicious that this wasn’t really an attempt at seeking approval of the progressive media (who of course are loving this). Maybe the Holy Father was indirectly trying to teach all of us, but, perhaps, “Urbi et Orbi” would have been a better vehicle?

    Merry Christmas, Father, and God bless all here!

  59. Michael_Thoma says:

    Lenten in character is apropos, isn’t it? Advent is a type of ‘miniLent’, at least for the Easterners, with varying days of fasts and abstaining from certain foods. We call the big one, the Great Lent in comparison.

  60. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Um… what’s with the bit in the first paragraph?

    “Infatti, il Natale è anche la festa della luce che non viene accolta dalla gente “eletta” ma dalla gente povera e semplice che aspettava la salvezza del Signore.”

    “In fact, Christmas is also the Festival of Light that does not come to assemble the “chosen” people but the poor and simple people who awaited the salvation of the Lord.”

    Why would the Holy Father seem to slag either Hanukkah or the very idea of a chosen people? Aren’t we chosen people too? The Magi were rich, but they accepted Christ; and everybody else who accepted Christ at this point was Jewish, so they were also members of the chosen people. And I get the idea of trying to say that our holidays are the fulfillment of Jewish holidays, which they are, but is this really the best way to say it? I mean, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, and the Maccabees are saints in the calendar. If He didn’t have a problem with it, who should?

    Moving along… it’s true that Advent is a penitential season, and that making a good Confession is the real preparation for Christmas. But ouch.

  61. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Also, what’s with Footnote 16 referencing Bl. Pope Paul VI’s “smoke of Satan” quote?

  62. Kathleen10 says:

    For a man all about humility he certainly is front and center on any given day. It is always a stir, always a shake-up, always a big statement, always an admonishment, but we rarely know to whom, exactly.
    Some of the criticisms seem odd. Having inward joy ought not be confused with being a congenial extrovert. Looks can be deceiving, but appearances seem to carry weight with him. It appears that if you are not in his mold, you have little to offer. Extroverted congeniality may be his particular personality trait or gift, but it’s not everybody’s. Again, for a man who put such initial emphasis on humility, this is contradictory. The world is more than ourselves.
    This is an unnecessary public flogging. If individual members need correction or dismissing, then do it, but these really do not have to be done publicly. Or maybe they do.

  63. DeGaulle says:

    15) Seeking worldly profit and showing off. “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”

    I could be completely wrong, but who immediately came into my mind as the target of this point was Cardinal Kasper.

    Still, I continue to be baffled by this Pope-however this episode I find more encouraging than discouraging. It certainly doesn’t fit with the Church of “nice” and is all the better for that. Let us continue to pray for Pope Francis.

  64. MGL says:

    Father Ray Blake has a slightly different perspective on the curia, and one that is arguably more grounded in reality than the hearsay that most of us laypeople have to rely on.

    Me, I have no idea what the state of the curia is, but it’s hard to imagine a more demoralizing experience than being berated en masse by your CEO in plain view of the whole world. We have no way of knowing whether Father Bloggs, who works 50-hour weeks in the CDW, is an excellent worker or the worst of the bunch, but people are apt to think less well of him today than they were two days ago, since he’s just been harangued by the boss along with everyone else. Bad enough if this was an internal staff meeting, but in public?

  65. chuckharold says:

    If the Pope thinks that it is time to change the culture of the Curia and Vatican underlings as well, then he is starting the process in earnest in this speech. In the business world, and I know this is not the business world, there are some simple steps to change an organization, and the Curia is an organization. In the business world, you stop paying people to do things that aren’t in your objectives. In other words you change the reward system. You change the culture by changing the people. Whom you promote, hire and fire says more about your culture than almost anything; personnel is policy. You change the accounting/accountability system to match your cultural objectives. You constantly talk about the need for change and why change is needed. You manage information; the more people who have the same information the more transparency and the less the fiefdoms. You manage who gets to go to meetings. You manage the formation of the fourth level down in the organization and you promote people from that level once in while. I think that Pope Francis knows exactly what he is doing. The Cardinals are now on notice. New Cardinals are coming in February. Whom he promotes will tell if he is serious. A simple gesture, like making the head of a Curia department a stepping stone to a major Archdiocese would be an interesting way to create the culture. Today it is the other way around. In business, operations is always a “better” job than a staff job.

  66. Paul says:

    Brings to mind an old t-shirt and perhaps an item for the Father Z paraphernalia

    “The beatings will continue until moral improves” with a picture Pope Francis.

  67. Bea says:

    In obedience to you, Fr. Z. , I did not read the previous 66 postings before adding my individual take on this.

    I kept thinking of his famous quote “Who am I to judge?”, yet this is his constant “song” to those around him. (In Spanish “la misma cancion” (the same song) is used for nags harping on the same issue.) but I guess it’s only Homos who he will not judge.

    It just seemed so worldly. Like a CEO calling to task a failing business from the heads of departments.

    One thing I failed to hear in his address is a call to Holiness. Our Lord was hardly mentioned, if at all.
    If all these things he accused the Curia of, are true (and from what I have witnessed in these past few decades, they are, indeed) then the reason must be because they have lost their way to holiness, to Christ, Himself and are operating on a worldly level. It is as if they have lost their sense of eternity and that this world will pass away.

    Maybe it did prickle their consciences (the curia), but it seems like they were children looking for the presents underneath the Christmas Tree and the big let-down when the Christmas presents did not satisfy, did not fulfill the meaning of Christmas. They were left empty with nothing but coal in their stockings. Did they get a good look at themselves? Will this look at themselves bring any fruit or will they forget about it tomorrow and rationalize themselves and justify themselves to continue as if nothing was ever said?

    Sinner, as I am, I’d hate to be in their shoes for to whom much is given, much will be demanded in return. May they stop concentrating on themselves and look to the people they must lead to Christ, instead, by looking to Christ ONLY and our commom eternal goal.

  68. kiwiinamerica says:

    To use a football analogy, this is how you “lose the locker room”.

  69. BobP says:

    Where’s the one about not being well-versed in Latin?

  70. Spade says:

    Pour encourager les autres?

  71. marcelus says:

    Hurricane Francis.!!

    Ever thought what will come after him?

  72. Elizabeth D says:

    Probably a blessedly normal but less popular pope, Marcelus.

  73. ChristoetEcclesiae says:

    Because I cannot read Italian fluently, I went looking for a translation, or at least a more detailed summary. I found Gerard O’Connell’s summary at America Magazine helpful. Based on what I read there, I am reminded less of a boss speaking to his employees and much more of a (somewhat tired?) father lecturing his sons on the dangers of the world. He identifies for all within hearing serious spiritual dangers. He wants his sons to avoid these pitfalls if they can, repent of their missteps, and begin again. He is calling them to conversion. Since we are all called to continual conversion, and since he is the shepherd of their souls, this rather public admonishment, though uncomfortable, could be seen as an act of great love for both brothers and Church.

    He reminds them (us?), too, of the importance of being in “vital, personal, authentic, and solid” relationship with Christ, and the need to grow in holiness and wisdom so as to be able to realize their mission. This advice, and this list, are great reminders for me, too!

    I imagine sitting and listening in that room was uncomfortable, much as it has been uncomfortable to me to listen to the past scoldings of my mom or to submit to the guidance of a dedicated teacher when I wasn’t working to my potential or to be gently offered an uncomfortable truth by my spiritual director, but I will pray that good fruit may ripen in abundance from the exercise.

    I remember, too, that someday Pope Francis will be held accountable for the guidance he gave the souls in his care. He must tend to these souls so that they may better tend to ours. I think that was part of his message: we need to remember that we are all in this together, so we must help and not hinder each other.

    A very blessed and happy Christmas to all!

  74. Montenegro says:

    I’m confused by the comments that are critical of Francis for his address. While I’m no defender or fan of his Jesuitical double-speak (JPII was comparatively easy to understand), wasn’t this the same Curia that allegedly was the cause of Benedict fleeing and abdicating, because they are so corrupt and horrible? If so, should we not be applauding Francis for his tough talk? Help me understand.

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