Pope urges “humility” for Church members in Christmas address

ROME (AP) – Pope Francis on Thursday urged Vatican cardinals, bishops and bureaucrats to embrace humility this Christmas season, saying their pride, self-interest and the “sparkle in our armor” perverted their spiritual life and corrupted the mission of the church.

As he has done in the past, Francis has used his annual Christmas address to berate Vatican administrators for their perceived moral and personal shortcomings, especially denouncing those proud clerics who “rigidly” hide behind the traditions of the Church. Catholic Church rather than looking for the most needy. with humility.

As they have done in the past, the Cardinals and Bishops sat with their faces of stone as they listened to Francis lecture them in the Hall of Blessings, which was otherwise adorned with Christmas trees and Christmas trees. glittering poinsettias.

“The humble are those who are concerned not only with the past but also with the future, because they know how to look towards the future, extend their branches, remembering the past with gratitude,” François told them. “The proud, on the other hand, simply repeat, become rigid and lock themselves into that repetition, feeling certain of what they know and fearing anything new because they cannot control it.”

The proud who are so withdrawn are consumed by their own interests, the pontiff said.

“As a result, they don’t learn from their sins and are not really open to forgiveness. It is huge corruption disguised as good. We must avoid it, ”he added.

Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis has used his Christmas speech to rail against the Curia, as the bureaucracy of the Holy See is called, denouncing the “spiritual Alzheimer’s disease” that some members suffer and the resistance that it suffers from. ‘he had encountered in his efforts to reform and revitalize the institution and the Catholic Church at large.

These reforms have moved up a gear this year, and some in the highest Catholic hierarchy paid the price when Francis ordered a 10% pay cut for the Cardinals, imposed a gift cap of 40 euros ( $ 45) to Holy See staff and passed a law allowing cardinals and bishops to be criminally prosecuted by the Vatican’s own court.

On top of that, Francis added his Christmas greetings in the form of yet another public insult from Vatican clergymen, who are normally treated with the greatest deference by their subordinates and the faithful in general.

Francis told them to stop hiding behind the “armor” of their titles and recognize that they, like the biblical figure of Naaman, a wealthy and decorated general, were lepers in need of healing.

“Naaman’s story reminds us that Christmas is the time when each of us must find the courage to take off our armor, let go of the pitfalls of our roles, our social recognition and the glitter of this world and embrace Naaman’s humility, “he said.

Francis also reiterated his call to clerics who care about tradition to stop living in the past, saying their obsession with old doctrine and the liturgy hides a “spiritual worldliness” that corrupts them.

“Seeking this kind of comfort is the most perverse fruit of spiritual worldliness, for it reveals a lack of faith, hope and love; it leads to an inability to discern the truth of things, ”he said.

This year, Francis has taken his biggest step in overpowering the traditionalist wing of the church, reimposing restrictions on the celebration of the Old Latin Mass that Pope Benedict XVI relaxed in 2007.

He stepped up those restrictions last weekend with a new set of rules that even banned the publication of Tridentine Mass times in church bulletins.

François said that the proud who remain stuck in the past, “locked in their little world, have neither past nor future, roots or branches, and live with the bitter taste of a melancholy which weighs on their hearts like the most precious devil’s potions. “

“We are all called to humility, for we are all called to remember and to give life. We are called to find a right relationship with our roots and our branches. Without these two things, we become sick, destined to disappear, ”he warned.

Jerry B. Hatch