His Holiness Pope Francis today gave his annual Christmas “greetings” address to members of the Roman Curia. HERE With his extemporaneous words at the end, it amounts to some 43oo words and covered 8 single-spaced pages of Times 12 point type.
His theme was “reform of the Roman Curia”. Alluding to and building on the speech two years ago in which he blasted the members of the Curia for their 15 illnesses, this time the Pope listed – at great length – various cures for those illnesses. Then he listed – at great length – the acts already undertaken, listing each and every Motu Proprio he has issued regarding the Curia.
One negative image he used involved cosmetics, plastic surgery, face lifts, wrinkles, blemishes.
Pope Francis sometimes speaks in code.
He sent a couple not very subtle shots over bows during the speech. One cannonball launched was an implicit threat that anyone could be fired. And indeed, people are being fired these days, from what I understand. The other cannonball was aimed at anyone who opposes him (emphases mine):
In this process, it is normal, and indeed healthy, to encounter difficulties, which in the case of the reform, might present themselves as different types of resistance. There can be cases of open resistance, often born of goodwill and sincere dialogue, and cases of hidden resistance, born of fearful or hardened hearts content with the empty rhetoric of ‘spiritual window-dressing’ typical of those who say they are ready for change, yet want everything to remain as it was before. There are also cases of malicious resistance, which spring up in misguided minds and come to the fore when the devil inspires ill intentions (often cloaked in sheep’s clothing). This last kind of resistance hides behind words of self-justification and often accusation; it takes refuge in traditions, appearances, formalities, in the familiar, or else in a desire to make everything personal, failing to distinguish between the act, the actor, and the action.
We have seen this kind of rhetoric from His Holiness before. It could be that it no longer surprises or has the impact that it once may have had.
The reason why I featured the paragraph above is because this is the paragraph everyone else will lead with. For example, John Allen at Crux in the churchy media and ABC in the secular MSM. Just watch.
If you have a lot of time, you might read his address for yourself.
There is an interesting reference to four Latin phrases which each encapsulate the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises. I’d like to know who originally made this distillation: deformata reformare, reformata conformare, conformata confirmare et confirmata transformare. There are so many smart readers here. Perhaps someone knows.
Also, pay attention to his phrase: “positive silence”. Again, His Holiness often speaks in code.
Interesting were the references Francis made at the very end in his extemporaneous remarks:
“When, two years ago, I spoke about the illnesses, one of you came to say to me: ‘Where must I go, to the pharmacy or to confession?’ ‘Well… both!” I replied. And when I greeted Cardinal Brandmüller, [One of the Four Cardinals of the Five Dubia.] he looked me in the eye and said: ‘Acquaviva!’ I, at the time, did not understand, but later, thinking about it, I remembered that Acquaviva, the third general of the Society of Jesus, had written a book which we students read in Latin; the spiritual fathers made us read it, and it was entitled: Industriae pro Superioribus ejusdem Societatis ad curandos animae morbos, that is, the illnesses of the soul. Three months ago, a very good edition came out in Italian, done by Father Giuliano Raffo, who died recently, with a good prologue which indicates how to read the book, and also with a good introduction. It is not a critical edition, but it is a really beautiful translation, very well done, and I believe it could be useful. As a Christmas gift, I would like to offer it to each one of you. Thank you”.
I’d like to get that book.