Francis sent his or her top executives off to Christmas vacation with a cleverly-worded list of everything they do wrong at the company.
December 22, 2014

Via the Washington Post, a story about how Pope Frank is going public with criticisms of the Vatican establishment. Good to hear, but they'll probably end up killing him for it:

Every year at around this time, Pope Francis and the senior governing cardinals, bishops, and priests of the Vatican – referred to as the Curia – meet for an exchange of Christmas greetings. This year, Pope Francis brought a little something extra for the Curia: a 15-point “catalog” of spiritual diseases he’s seen among leadership there, and how a little bit of Christmas spirit might help to make things better.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but Francis’s Monday Christmas greeting was roughly the equivalent of a CEO sending his or her top executives off to Christmas vacation with a cleverly-worded list of everything they do wrong at the company. Merry Christmas?

The list of diseases included “spiritual Alzheimers,” “spiritual petrification,” a feeling of being “immortal,” and “funeral face,” a concept Francis referred to earlier this month to prepare for Christmas with “joy,” instead of dourness or anxiety. The pope also blasted gossiping among officials as a form of “satanic assassination.” He said: “Sometimes, [officials of the Curia] feel themselves ‘lords of the manor’ – superior to everyone and everything.” Francis hoped that the Christmas season would help the governing body to heal some of what ails it.

La Stampa’s Vatican Insider has the full list of 15 diseases Francis named. They’re also available, in Italian, on the Vatican’s press office site.

Some of the highlights – or lowlights – depending on whether you are a member of the Curia or not:

  • On feeling “immortal:” “A curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself, is an infirm Body’.”
  • On what he means by “spiritual Alzheimers:” “A progressive decline of spiritual faculties’ which ’causes severe disadvantages to people’, making them live in a ‘state of absolute dependence on their, often imagined, views’. We can see this in those who have ‘lost their memory’ of their encounter with the Lord, in those who depend on their ‘passions, whims and obsessions’.”
  • On the disease of “existential schizophrenia:” this refers to “a double life, a result of the hypocrisy typical of mediocre people and of advancing spiritual emptiness, which degrees or academic titles cannot fill’.” Ouch.

Some of his harshest words were reserved to sins related to gossiping, which, as shown above, the pope likened to the actions of Satan. Gossip, he said, will grip a person and transform him into one of the “sowers of discord.” which is a pretty direct reference to what Satan does. Francis called gossips “cold-blooded murderers” of reputations. “It is the disease of cowards, who do not have the courage to speak upfront and so talk behind one’s back… Watch out against the terrorism of gossip!” he said.

As CNN notes, the pope may have made an oblique reference to the sex abuse scandal while discussing a “disease of a closeness,” which he said was a “cancer which threatens the harmony of the body and causes a lot of evil and scandal, especially towards our small brothers and sisters.”

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