Pope Francis calls for humility of Church leaders


At the annual reception of the Roman Curia, the Pope warns against clericalism and worldliness.

“We are all lepers […] who need to be healed, ”Pope Francis told the Roman Curia in his Christmas message delivered on December 23, 2021 to the Vatican. Urging his administration to follow the “path of humility”, the pontiff once again warned against the “perverse temptation” of clericalism “which creeps daily among us.

As every year, the Pope received the heads of the Curia – cardinals, heads of dicasteries and heads of offices – to present his Christmas greetings. In a long address addressed to them in the Hall of Blessings of the Apostolic Palace, the Pontiff preached humility, a value carried by Christmas and which, according to him, our time “seems to have forgotten” or “relegated to a form of moralism. “

The bishop of Rome warned his curia against the “dangerous temptation […] of spiritual worldliness ”, an illness that he described as“ difficult to unmask ”because“ it is covered by what usually reassures us: our office, the liturgy, doctrine, religiosity ”. Humility, he says, is more about “understanding that we should not be ashamed of our fragility.”

Roots and buds

“The desire for reassurance is the most perverse fruit of spiritual worldliness”, he insisted, a “leprosy” which makes life “apparently” and isolates in the disease. To combat the sterility of pride, the Pope called for the defense of the “roots” of Tradition and the “buds” of the new.

Tradition is that “vital link with the past from which we draw the sap for the present,” said Pope Francis. For memory not to be a “prison of the past”, it must nevertheless generate the future, he said, declaring that “the humble accepts to be questioned, he opens up to the new.

Synodal conversion of the Curia

The Pontiff then placed humility at the heart of the ongoing synodal process – the Synod on Synodality, which began on October 17 – stressing that “without humility we cannot meet our neighbor, the brother and sister who live next to us ”. The Synod is “the experience of feeling that we are all members of a greater people: the People of God”, he said, calling on the Curia to convert to the “synodal style”.

“The Curia is not only a logistical and bureaucratic instrument”, lamented the 266th Pope, but “the first body called to bear witness. He therefore pleaded for “another style of work, of collaboration, of communion” which also involves “the path of humility”.

Participation, communion and mission

Pope Francis then demanded greater sobriety in his administration, greater transparency – “without favoritism or cronyism” – and a more shared sense of responsibility, thanking those who show “creativity” in their work at the Vatican. He noted that creativity usually emerges “where room is left and found for everyone, even for those who, hierarchically, seem to occupy a marginal position”.

The Pontiff also called for greater communion, asking the Curia to “pray together” but also to “recognize the diversity that dwells in us as a gift”. By confusing communion and uniformity, the Catholic Church weakens and silences “the quickening power of the Holy Spirit”, he insisted.

Finally, he criticizes the “terrible corruption under the guise of kindness” which wins over those who “turn in on themselves”, and encourages the culture of a “missionary heart” turned towards the poor.


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