Pope Francis Gives Roman Curia 15 Lumps of Coal for Christmas

On December 22, 2014, Pope Francis did not pull back any punches in chastising the highest-ranking officials within the Vatican leadership: the Roman Curia.  I was surprised to read the sharp criticism.  It’s like Santa gave each of the Cardinals 15 pieces of coal as Christmas gifts.  I imagine many Cardinals felt embarrassed.  It must not have been easy for Pope Francis, either.  Color commentary said the Pope read straight from his script and did not look up with impromptu elaboration like he usually does.  The full English translation can be found on America Magazine.  Here is a summary of the 15 “diseases”:

Pope Francis Chastises Roman Curia
Pope Francis Chastises Roman Curia
  1. The sickness of considering oneself “immortal,” “indispensable” and lacking the necessary and habitual controls.  It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live forever and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves to be superior to others, rather than at their service.
  2. The sickness of excessive industriousness, or “Martha-ism,” is present in those who immerse themselves into work and neglect spending the better part sitting at Jesus’ feet (contemplative prayer).
  3. The sickness of mental and spiritual hardening occur in those who conceal themselves behind paper, who become working machines rather than of men of God.  These people cannot weep with those who weep, or rejoice with those who rejoice… sentiments that were present with Jesus Christ.
  4. The sickness of excessive planning and functionalism is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that things effectively progress with perfect planning.  They try to regulate or domesticate the Holy Spirit instead of being faithful to the Spirit’s freshness, imagination or innovation.
  5. The “sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team”.
  6. Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive decline of one’s spiritual faculties.  These are people who are incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views.  We see this in those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord, in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”. [Ouch.]
  7. The sickness of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the color of one’s robes, insignia and honors become the most important aim in life.
  8. Existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honors. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life”.
  9. The sickness of “chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.
  10. The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honoring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.
  11. The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”.
  12. The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity”.
  13. The disease of accumulation: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure.
  14. The ailment of closed circles: when belonging to a group becomes stronger than belonging to the Body and, in some situations, to Christ Himself.
  15. Then, there is the “disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others”.

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