Skip to content

Pope Francis to Roman Curia: ‘Rigid ideological positions’ prevent us from moving forward

Pope Francis gives his annual Christmas address to the cardinals who work in Vatican offices on Dec. 21, 2023, in the gilded Hall of Benediction at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Dec 21, 2023 / 11:13 am (CNA).

Pope Francis warned the Roman Curia on Thursday that “rigid ideological positions” can be an obstacle to “moving forward.”

In his annual Christmas address to the cardinals who work in Vatican offices on Dec. 21, the pope underlined that it is important to “keep faring forward, to keep searching and growing in our understanding of the truth, overcoming the temptation to stand still.”

“Let us remain vigilant against rigid ideological positions that often, under the guise of good intentions, separate us from reality and prevent us from moving forward,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis gives his annual Christmas address to the cardinals who work in Vatican offices on Dec. 21, 2023, in the gilded Hall of Benediction at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

The pope’s speech came days after he gave his approval for priests to give “spontaneous” nonliturgical blessings for same-sex couples and other couples in “irregular situations” — a declaration that has been met with strong reactions, dividing Catholic bishops around the world.

Pope Francis’ speech briefly touched on what he sees as the current division in the Catholic Church, rejecting the usual dichotomy of so-called “progressives” and “conservatives.”

“Sixty years after the Second Vatican Council, we are still debating the division between ‘progressives’ and ‘conservatives,’ but that is not the difference,” Francis said.

Pope Francis gives his annual Christmas address to the cardinals who work in Vatican offices on Dec. 21, 2023, in the gilded Hall of Benediction at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

“The real, central difference is between lovers and those who have lost that initial passion. That is the difference. Only those who love can fare forward.”

The pope, who turned 87 on Sunday, added that a zealous priest once told him that “it is not easy to rekindle the embers under the ashes of the Church,” noting that this advice “can also help us in our work in the Curia.”

Pope Francis has often used his annual December address, held in the Vatican’s gilded Hall of Benediction, to offer his frank perspective on the state of the Roman Curia. 

Pope Francis meets with the cardinals who work in Vatican offices on Dec. 21, 2023, in the gilded Hall of Benediction at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

In 2014, he famously diagnosed 15 spiritual “diseases” afflicting the Curia, including careerism and idolizing superiors. In 2020, the pope used the word “crisis” 44 times in his speech and called the Church to renewal.

In his 2023 Christmas greetings, Pope Francis did not speak of corruption or even allude to the historic Vatican trial that concluded on Saturday, which found a cardinal guilty of embezzlement of Vatican funds and sentenced him and other former Vatican employees to years in prison. 

Pope Francis’ message instead focused on the importance of listening, discernment, and moving forward.

Discernment “can strip us of the illusion of omniscience, from the danger of thinking that it is enough simply to apply rules,” he said. “And from the temptation to carry on, even in the life of the Curia, by simply repeating what we have always done.”

The pope quoted the late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a Jesuit theologian and archbishop of Milan from 1980 to 2004.

“As Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini once wrote: ‘Discernment is quite different from the meticulous exactitude of those who live in legalistic conformity or with pretensions to perfectionism. It is a burst of love that distinguishes between good and better, between what is helpful in itself and what is helpful here and now, between what may be good in general and what needs to be done now,’” he said.

“‘Failure to strive to discern what is best often makes pastoral life monotonous and repetitive: religious acts are multiplied, traditional gestures are repeated, without clearly seeing their meaning,’” Francis added, quoting Martini’s 2008 book “The Gospel of Mary.”

Following his custom, Pope Francis gave Vatican officials books as a Christmas gift during his meeting with cardinals of the Roman Curia on Dec. 21, 2023, in the gilded Hall of Benediction at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

Following his custom, Pope Francis gave Vatican officials books as a Christmas gift. This year the pope gave them a book of his Christmas homilies and a copy of a book that he wrote titled “Santi, non mondani: La grazia di Dio ci salva dalla corruzione interiore” (“Holy, Not Worldly: God’s Grace Saves Us from Interior Corruption”).

The book on interior corruption is the same book he gave each of the Synod on Synodality delegates during the first week of the October assembly at the Vatican. It is a compilation of a text published by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2005 called “Corruption and Sin” and a strongly-worded letter that Pope Francis wrote to all priests in the Diocese of Rome on Aug. 5.

Pope Francis meets with the cardinals who work in Vatican offices on Dec. 21, 2023, in the gilded Hall of Benediction at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

The pope’s speech to the Roman Curia and his following Christmas greetings to employees of Vatican City State were the last audiences on his public schedule before he is scheduled to give a Christmas Eve Sunday Angelus and preside over Midnight Mass at 7:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“The mystery of Christmas fills our hearts with awe … at an unexpected message: God has come, God is here in our midst, and his light has forever pierced the darkness of the world,” Pope Francis told the Curia.

“We need to hear and accept this message anew, especially in these days tragically marked by the violence of war, by the momentous risks posed by climate change, and by poverty, suffering, hunger … and all the grave problems of the present time. It is comforting to discover that even in those painful situations, and all the other problems of our frail human family, God makes himself present in this crib, the manger where today he chooses to be born and to bring the Father’s love to all.”

Looking for the latest insights

on church and culture?

Get articles and updates from our WEEKLY NEWS newsletter.


Share

Anbefaling

Flere nyheter om dette emnet

Inkvisisjonen | Gutta på tur dag 3

Bli med Peder og Johannes på pilgrimstur mot Nidaros. Peder og Johannes har ankommet Granavollen. De har gått i vakkert og velholdt bondelandskap og feiret

Den eukaristiske kongressen i Indianapolis

Den eukaristiske kongressen i Indianapolis Av Courtney Mares Den nasjonale eukaristiske kongressen ble avsluttet søndag med en messe på Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium der titusenvis

Mer nyheter

Bidrag etter emne