“The worst thing that can happen to us is to think that we no longer need conversion, both on a personal and community level,” the pope said on December 22, 2022 during his traditional Christmas address to the Roman Curia. , which is an opportunity each year to set the course for the government of the Church.
Without explicit allusion to the new Constitution of the Roman Curia which entered into force last June, the pope delivered a spiritual teaching on the “conversion” to which the administrators of the Church are continually called, explaining moreover his words. which can sometimes seem “hard and strong”.
Entering the Hall of Blessings on foot, walking with the aid of a cane but visibly in good shape, the pope greeted all the current and former leaders of the Roman Curia, including Cardinal Becciu, currently suspended from his cardinal elector’s rights because of the so-called “London Building” trial.
Spiritual pride denounced
Recalling that “many things have happened in the past year”, the pope urged “gratitude”, explaining that “among all these benefits, we hope there is also our conversion. This is never a done deal,” he warned.
Delivering a demanding spiritual teaching like every year during this speech, the pope reiterated that “before the Gospel, we always remain like children who need to learn. Believing that we have learned everything makes us fall into spiritual pride,” the Argentine pontiff warned, citing one of the 15 “diseases” mentioned during his famous greetings to the Curia of December 22, 2014.
Francis recalled that the Second Vatican Council, commemorated last October, was motivated by “the desire to better understand the Gospel, to make it more current, alive and operative at this moment in history”. “This journey is far from over,” Francis said, explaining that “current reflection on the synodality of the Church stems precisely from the conviction that the journey of understanding the message of Christ is endless and continually challenges us. “. The year 2023 will be marked by a decisive synodal assembly in the Vatican from October 4 to 29, after two years of a process lived at the global level to reflect on the future of the Church, and which will continue in 2024.
“The opposite of conversion is fixism, that is, the hidden conviction of not needing any other understanding of the Gospel. It is the error of wanting to crystallize the message of Jesus in a single form which would always be valid”. The pope called for adaptation to the tendency of evil “to evolve, to become more and more insidious, to disguise itself in new forms so that we find it difficult to recognize it”.
But he also recalled that “it is too little to denounce evil, including the one that winds between us. What must be done is, in front of him, to decide on a conversion”, insisted Francis, urging “vigilance” and to exercise “the daily practice of the examination of conscience”. As he had done during the general audience of December 14the pope warned against the trap set by “educated, well-behaved demons.”
The counter-example of the Jansenist temptation
The pope thus returned to the failure of the nuns of Port-Royal, who had embodied the Jansenist drift in the 17th century in France. “One of their abbesses, Mother Angelica, had made a good start: she had reformed herself, in a “charismatic” way, as well as the monastery, dismissing even her parents from the cloister. She was a woman full of talents, born to govern,” the pope recalled.
But his qualities as a government drifted towards “an intransigent closure, including before ecclesiastical authority. Of her and her nuns, they said: “Pure as angels, proud as demons”, said Pope Francis, an assiduous reader of Blaise Pascal who had been close to this current. “They had chased the devil away, but he had returned seven times stronger and, under the guise of austerity and rigor, he had brought rigidity and the presumption of being better than the others,” the pontiff recalled. .
Those who work in the Vatican can also ‘fall into the temptation to think that we are safe, that we are better, that we no longer need to convert,’ Pope Francis has warned as he explains his own harshness. , which occasionally injured Holy See personnel.
“Excuse me, brothers and sisters, but if sometimes I say things that may seem harsh and strong, it is not because I do not believe in the value of gentleness and tenderness, but because it it is good to reserve caresses for the weary and oppressed, and to find the courage to afflict the consoled, as the Servant of God don Tonino Bello liked to say, because sometimes their consolation is only a ruse of the devil and not a gift of the Spirit,” the pope explained.
promote peace and forgiveness
The pope also returned to the title of “Prince of Peace” attributed by Isaiah to the Messiah. “I’m thinking of the martyred Ukraine, but also of the many conflicts taking place in different parts of the world. War and violence are always a failure. Religion should not lend itself to fueling conflicts,” insisted the Bishop of Rome.
“While we suffer from the unleashing of wars and violence, we can and must make our contribution to peace by trying to uproot from our hearts every root of hatred and resentment towards the brothers and sisters who live alongside us” , said Pope Francis, inviting the leaders of the Curia to detach themselves from any “bitterness”.
“If it is true that we want the clamor of war to cease and make way for peace, then everyone must start with themselves,” Francis insisted. “It’s not just gun violence, there’s verbal violence, psychological violence, violence of abuse of power, hidden violence of gossip,” he warned. “Before the Prince of Peace who comes into the world, let us lay down all arms of all kinds. Let no one take advantage of his position and his role to mortify the other,” the pontiff asked.
“A pure Church for the pure is only a repetition of the Cathar heresy”, he also stressed, inviting mercy for people and institutions. He recalled that the Bible speaks extensively of “the limitations and faults of many of those we recognize today as saints”. “Forgiveness consists in granting a new chance, that is to say in understanding that we become saints by trial and error”, insisted the pope.
“Any war, to be extinguished, needs forgiveness, otherwise justice becomes revenge, and love is recognized only as a form of weakness”, explained François, hammering that “in forgiveness, all- power of God always works”.
As is the custom each year, the pope offered books to the participants: this year it was Vita di Gesu (Life of Jesus) by Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director of Vatican Media, and the book of an interview between a priest, Don Benito Giorgetta, and a repentant mobster, Luigi Buonaventura, entitled Passiamo sull’altra riva (Let’s go to the other side), which Pope Francis personally prefaced.
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Pope urges Roman Curia to break away from ‘fixism’ and ‘bitterness’
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