This time as well, in the speech he gives every year to the Vatican curia before Christmas, Pope Francis has come out swinging at his unfortunate listeners.
Last year he went after the the Judases “who hide behind good intentions to stab their brothers and sow weeds.”
Two years ago he had pilloried the “trusted traitors” who “let themselves be corrupted by ambition or vainglory and, when they are gently removed, falsely declare themselves martyrs of the system, of the ‘uninformed pope,’ of the ‘old guard,’ … instead of reciting the ‘mea culpa’.”
And who is in the pope’s crosshairs this year? Below are the most biting passages from the speech given by the pope to the Roman curia on the morning of Saturday, December 21.
First, however, comes the news of another meeting that took place a few days ago between Francis and the cardinals. A meeting that started badly and ended even worse.
No Vatican news organization has so far mentioned this meeting. And yet it happened. It took place in the Vatican chapel of Santa Marta on the morning of Friday December 13, the fiftieth anniversary of the first Mass of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
The one who had suggested to Pope Francis that he celebrate this occasion with a Mass together with the cardinals residing in Rome had been, a few weeks earlier, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in his capacity as dean of the college of cardinals.
Francis had replied no. But Sodano had not given up, and thanks to a second effort by college sub-dean Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, he was finally able to overcome his resistance.
In sending to the cardinals the letter of invitation for the gathering, Sodano made mention of Francis’s initial resistance.
Who, however, only slightly attenuated his impulse of distaste. On December 13 the Mass took place, but in the most absolute silence on both sides. The pope did not deliver the homily and did not say a single word either before or after the ceremony. And even Sodano was unable to read the address of good wishes he had prepared, in the name not only of those present but of the entire college of cardinals. After the Mass Francis quickly greeted the cardinals one by one and left.
In the afternoon, both “L’Osservatore Romano” and “Vatican News” published the message of good wishes from Cardinal Sodano. But without covering the news or providing a single image of the Mass celebrated with the pope.
This, in fact, was the strict order of the pontiff: no news and no photos.
Needless to say, the cardinals who had come to Santa Marta were very much struck by the pope’s coldness towards them. A coldness of which they did not understand the reason.
And this brings us to the pre-Christmas address to the curia on December 21. With the backstory just given.
Here is a link to the full text of the speech, which was followed on the same day by a papal “motu proprio” that gave news of Sodano’s resignation from the position of dean of the college of cardinals.
And these are some of its passages.
NOT LIKE “THE LEOPARD”
We find ourselves living at a time when change is no longer linear, but epochal. […] Often we approach change as if were a matter of simply putting on new clothes, but remaining exactly as we were before. I think of the enigmatic expression found in a famous Italian novel: “If we want everything to stay the same, then everything has to change” (“The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa).
NEW PROCESSES, NEW PARADIGMS
We need to initiate processes and not just occupy spaces: […] We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. […] We need other “maps,” other paradigms, which can help us reposition our ways of thinking and our attitudes. Brothers and sisters, Christendom no longer exists!
The Dicastery for Communication has been entrusted with the responsibility of unifying in a new institution the nine bodies that, in various ways and with different tasks, had previously dealt with communications. These were the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Press, the Vatican Publishing House, L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Centre, the Vatican Internet Service and the Photographic Service. […] All this entails not only a change of culture but also an institutional and personal conversion, in order to pass from operating in self-contained units – which in the best cases had a certain degree of coordination – to working in synergy, in an intrinsically interconnected way.
RIGIDITY, SYNONYM FOR HATRED AND IMBALANCE
There is always the temptation to fall back on the past (also by employing new formulations), because it is more reassuring, familiar, and, to be sure, less conflictual. […] Here, there is a need to be wary of the temptation to rigidity. A rigidity born of the fear of change, which ends up erecting fences and obstacles on the terrain of the common good, turning it into a minefield of incomprehension and hatred. Let us always remember that behind every form of rigidity lies some kind of imbalance. Rigidity and imbalance feed one another in a vicious circle.
CHURCH BEHIND BY TWO HUNDRED YEARS
Cardinal Martini, in his last interview, a few days before his death, said something that should make us think: “The Church is two hundred years behind the times. Why is she not shaken up? Are we afraid? Fear, instead of courage?”