Monday, December 22, 2014

The 15 "Sicknesses" – To the Curia, Pope Lobs a Christmas Bomb

Building upon the thread he began last year, the Pope again deployed today's Christmas "greeting" to his Curia chiefs not to recap his 2014, but to tear into 15 examples of spiritual "sickness" he sees as sufficiently prevalent among the top clerics of the church's "ailing, outdated" central government as he proceeds to the central phase of his intended sweeping reform of it.

Exclusively focused on a list of tendencies ranging from "existential schizophrenia" to "vainglory," "spiritual Alzheimer's disease,"
 "closed circles" and "indifference to others," a full official English translation of the searing speech remains to be released; an unofficial rendering, however, is available via Zenit.

On the whole, the message will only heighten already sizable perceptions of the entrenched bureaucracy's widespread "resistance" to Francis and his reforms, as well as likely tossing further fuel on an internal scene whose tensions have been described as a "civil war."

Having pursued a cleanout of a broad swath of middle ranking staff from the first months of his two-year pontificate, as previously reported, the centerpiece of what's envisioned to be the Holy See's most significant structural shake-up since the close of Vatican II will move toward its endgame in February, as Francis reveals his first draft of plans to the entire College of Cardinals for two days of consultation before the Consistory on the 14th. A week later, the Pope will again take his top Curialists on the road for their weeklong Lenten retreat at the Pauline spiritual center at Arricia, 30 miles outside Rome, an innovation introduced with year's exercises.

Following yesterday's meeting with the prelates in the Sala Clementina, Francis went to the Paul VI Hall for a second gathering, one which he instituted last year: a larger, more exuberant greeting for the mostly lay rank-and-file Curial staffers and their families.

In a shift from the message to their superiors, the Pope had another list for the group, but one instead focused on things to "care for" – naming among them their "spiritual life" and "way of speaking," "our brothers and sisters in need" and in these days, to care to make Christmas "never a feast of commercial consumerism, of appearances or useless gifts... but that it might be the feast of the joy of welcoming the Lord in the crib and our hearts."

"This is the real Christmas," Francis said, "the feast of the poverty of God who made himself into nothing, taking the nature of a slave; of God who places himself to serve at table; of God who hides himself from the intelligent and the wise and reveals himself to the small, the simple and the poor; of the 'Son of man who didn't come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many.'"

After telling the workers that he wished he could give all of them and their families "a hug," especially their kids, the Pope closed with one last salvo at their bosses, saying he wished "to ask your forgiveness for our shortcomings, mine and [those of] my collaborators, and also for the scandals which have done much harm. Please forgive me."

SVILUPPO: Via The Bones, what's been termed the "Fatal 15" have been made into a poster... a great last-minute Christmas gift for your favorite desk-jockey, whatever their station.