Good intentions – Pope to the Curia, or to us all

Pope Francis gave the Roman Curia an earful, they say. Rather than limiting himself to general niceties and well-wishes in the traditional Christmas address, he told the cardinals, bishops and other members of the Curia what’s wrong with them and what they must improve to function properly again. They say.

Reality is a bit different, as it often is.

pope francis curia christmas address

To start, the fact of a Pope giving a meaty address is nothing new, and certainly not when that Pope is Francis. He challenges his audience, and on this occasion he chose to do so in light of the preparation for Christmas, of which the sacrament of Confession is an important part. He lists no less than fifteen pitfalls that the Curia must look out for. But only the Curia? Not in the least. At the end of his list he says:

“Brothers, these sicknesses and these temptations are, naturally, a danger for every Christian and for every Curia, community, Congregation, parish, Ecclesial Movement, etc. and they can strike at the individual as much as at the communal level.”

We should all listen well to the Pope’s  words in this, because the risks for the Curia are no different than the risk we ourselves run. Rather than seeing the fifteen points in the speech as stern warnings, we can turn them around and use them as good intentions for Christmas and the new year.

  1. Consider yourself as important as everyone else.
  2. Enjoy the gift of rest and relaxation, and the fruits of companionship and time for others and for God.
  3. Stay in touch with people and their feelings, wishes and hopes (as well as your own).
  4. Have confidence in the Holy Spirit in your work and life.
  5. Know your capabilities and those of others around you, and coordinate.
  6. Always remain in an encounter with the Lord.
  7. Stay true to yourself and consider the interests of others as much as those of yourself.
  8. Always remain a shepherd for others, through example and care.
  9. Speak directly, openly and without complaining.
  10. Think of duties, not just rights, and honour God rather than persons.
  11. Think of others, share with them and take joy in what they say and do.
  12. Be happy, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
  13. Travel lightly through life, don’t be weighed down by possessions.
  14. Remain open to others, also as a group.
  15. Don’t show off or take pride in your abilities or achievements.

Good advice, if not always easy. I suspect that if we apply these good intentions, the change will be astounding. And it’s not our change, achieved by us, but by the Holy Spirit working in us. As Pope Francis says:

“We must clarify that it is only the Holy Spirit – the soul of the Mystical Body of Christ, as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed affirms: “I believe … in the Holy Spirit, Lord and giver of life” – who heals every infirmity. It is the Holy Spirit who supports every sincere effort of purification and every good will of conversion. He it is who makes us understand that every member participates in the sanctification of the Body and in its weakening. He is the promoter of harmony: “ipse harmonia est,” says Saint Basil. Saint Augustine says to us: “While a part adheres to the body, its healing is not despaired of; instead, what was cut off cannot be taken care of or healed.”


3 thoughts on “Good intentions – Pope to the Curia, or to us all”

  1. Hi, thanks for this genuine perspective. All too soon I got messages from one side announcing with joy that the pope ‘gave them a good beating’ and from the other side that the pope ‘is frustrated by “loosing” the first round of the synod and now pushing his own doctrine by playing the media with a personal attack on the cardinals’. Both messages being actually identical, with the only difference the interpretation being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. One would too easily get carried away in these rethorics.

    To cover this speech, the only newspaper headline that would make sense is:


    1. We had in our “MailCircle” (where any believer can enter) same theme and I wrote there:
      And all the more released many of us where, when we heard yesterday’s of the Pope his „dressing down“ of the clerics, with 15 diseases Pope Benedict numerated:

      1. To think one is irreplaceable
      2. “Martha-lism“ like Martha in Luke 10,40 to imagine to have no time for more important things
      3. to become administration-clercs instead of peoples servants
      4. sprawling planning instead of doing
      5. miserable connection to parish as counterparts
      6. spiritual Alzheimer= forgetting the Gospel over own habitus
      7. thirst for glory where own appearance wights more than announcement of Christ
      8. schizophren sight of pastoral in a false mysticism as in Paul’s letter Phil 3,19
      9. Gossip and tattle as Paul warned in Phil: 14,18
      10. Opportunism in honoring one’s superion instead of God Mt 23:8-12 and Gal 5:16-25.
      11. Apathy towards other’s problems
      12. mourning faces by treating others with arrogance
      13. the disease of collecting things and values we don’t need
      14. The disease of cohesive groups instead of openness to anyone
      15. worldly profit and craving for recognition or admiration instead of stepping back to provide more space other’s participation.

      It’s really high time these errors and indeed diseases came to be openly announced. I love Pope Francis for this „revelation“. Sadly enough Pope Benedict has a strong opposition in the Vatican, but he is not afraid, and the storm he triggered here will renovate a lot to the better 🙂
      Let’s hope The Holy Spirit enforces it too.


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