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I suspect the employees of the Roman Curia have come to view the pope’s annual Christmas greetings much as Seinfeld’s George Costanza viewed Festivus. Francis’s 2014 address was, if not an Airing of Grievances, then something very near it, as the pope detailed fifteen—fifteen!—“curial diseases.” In 2015, Francis wished his closest collaborators a merry Christmas with a lengthy, gloomy rundown of “curial antibiotics,” via an acrostic analysis of the Latin word misericordia. (The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy had kicked off a couple of weeks before Francis’s address, which explains why misericordia was on his mind.) In 2016, the pope returned to the topic of the shortcomings of the Curia, detailing the governing principles of his Curial reform and pointing to the specific steps he had already taken. The only thing missing from this dry address was praise of aluminum’s high strength-to-weight ratio.
After three years of this, I imagine the employees of the Curia shuffled in to the Clementine Hall with some combination of dread and embarrassment. In this year’s speech to the Curia, delivered on December 21, Francis taught at length about the diaconal dimension of the Curia. By this, he means an attitude of humble service—humble service to the pope, and humble service to the Church and the world. Francis criticized “those who betray the trust put in them and profiteer from the Church’s motherhood.” He did not explain whom he meant by that, though he noted that some offenders had been “quietly sidelined” because they did not “understand the lofty nature of their responsibility.”
Employees - Martyrs - System - Factions - Vatican
These “quietly sidelined” former employees “wrongly declare themselves martyrs of the system”; they pose as having been undermined by long-entrenched factions at the Vatican who resist the reform of the Curia. Not so, Francis says: The pope is not a “pope kept in the dark,”...
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