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A happy Christmas to all who pass here!
(Rather busy at present!)
I was somewhat shocked at reading the latest headline on the "Protect the Pope" blog, "Pope Francis tells Holy See’s curia to stop inspecting and questioning the local churches because it hinders the Holy Spirit". So shocked, in fact, that I looked at the original on the .Vatican website. I reproduce it below in full and I submit that Deacon Nick's take is completely off the wall.
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
again the Lord has enabled us to journey through Advent, and all too
quickly we have come to these final days before Christmas. They are days
marked by a unique spiritual climate made up of emotions, memories and
signs, both liturgical and otherwise, such as the crèche. It is in this
climate that this traditional meeting takes place with you, the
superiors and officials of the Roman Curia, who cooperate daily in the
service of the Church. I greet all of you with affection. Allow me to
extend a special greeting to Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who recently
began his service as Secretary of State, and who needs our prayers!
our hearts are full of gratitude to God, who so loved us that he gave
us his only-begotten Son, it is also good to make room for gratitude to
one another. In this, my first Christmas as the Bishop of Rome, I also
feel the need to offer sincere thanks to all of you as a community of
service, and to each of you individually. I thank you for the work which
you do each day: for the care, diligence and creativity which you
display; and for your effort – I know it is not always easy – to work
together in the office, both to listen to and to challenge one another,
and to bring out the best in all your different personalities and gifts,
in a spirit of mutual respect.
In a particular way, I want to
express my gratitude to those now concluding their service and
approaching retirement. As priests and bishops, we know full well that
we never really retire, but we do leave the office, and rightly so, not
least to devote ourselves more fully to prayer and the care of souls,
starting with our own! So a very special and heartfelt “thank you” goes
to those of you who have worked here for so many years with immense
dedication, hidden from the eyes of the world. This is something truly
admirable. I have such high regard for these “Monsignori” who are cut
from the same mould as the curiales of olden times, exemplary persons.
We need them today, too! People who work with competence, precision and
self-sacrifice in the fulfilment of their daily duties. Here I would
like to mention some of them by name, as a way of expressing my esteem
and my gratitude, but we know that, in any list, the first names people
notice are the ones that are missing! Besides, I would also risk
overlooking someone and thus committing an injustice and a lack of
charity. But I want to say to these brothers of ours that they offer a
very important witness in the Church’s journey through history.
mould and this witness make me think of two hallmarks of the curial
official, and even more of curial superiors, which I would like to
emphasize: professionalism and service.
Professionalism, by which I
mean competence, study, keeping abreast of things. This is a basic
requisite for working in the Curia. Naturally, professionalism is
something which develops and is in part acquired; but I think that,
precisely for it to develop and to be acquired, there has to be a good
foundation from the outset.
The second hallmark is service: service
to the Pope and to the bishops, to the universal Church and to the
particular Churches. In the Roman Curia, one learns – in a real way,
“one breathes in” – this twofold aspect of the Church, this interplay of
the universal and the particular. I think that this is one of the
finest experiences of those who live and work in Rome: “to sense” the
Church in this way. When professionalism is lacking, there is a slow
drift downwards towards mediocrity.
Dossiers become full of trite
and lifeless information and incapable of opening up lofty perspectives.
Then, too, when the attitude is no longer one of service to the
particular Churches and their bishops, the structure of the Curia turns
into a ponderous, bureaucratic customs house, constantly inspecting and
questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and the growth of
To these two qualities of professionalism and service,
I would also like to add a third, which is holiness of life. We know
very well that, in the hierarchy of values, this is the most important.
it is basic for the quality of our work, our service. And I want to say
here that in the Roman Curia, there have been and there are saints; I
have said this in public more than once, to thank the Lord. Holiness
means a life immersed in the Spirit, a heart open to God, constant
prayer, deep humility and fraternal charity in our relationships with
our fellow workers. It also means apostleship, discreet and faithful
pastoral service, zealously carried out in direct contact with God’s
people. For priests, this is indispensable.
Holiness in the Curia
also means conscientious objection to gossip! We rightfully insist on
the importance of conscientious objection but perhaps we, too, need to
exercise it as a means of defending ourselves from an unwritten law of
our surroundings, which unfortunately is that of gossip. So let us all
be conscientious objectors; and mind you, I am not simply preaching!
Gossip is harmful to people, our work and our surroundings.
brothers and sisters, let us feel close to one another on this final
stretch of the road to Bethlehem. We would do well to meditate on Saint
Joseph, who was so silent yet so necessary at the side of Our Lady. Let
us think about him and his loving concern for his Spouse and for the
Baby Jesus. This can tell us a lot about our own service to the Church!
So let us experience this Christmas in spiritual closeness to Saint
I thank you most heartily for your work and especially for
your prayers. Truly I feel “borne aloft” by your prayers and I ask you
to continue to support me in this way. I, too, remember you before the
Lord, and I impart my blessing as I offer my best wishes for a Christmas
filled with light and peace for each of you and for all your dear ones.
To this blogger, at least, it is clear that the holy father is congratulating members of the curia and contrasting their praiseworthy professionalism and service with a hypothetical alternative- "when professionalism is lacking". He is not issuing instructions for radical change. There are enough enemies of the truth distorting the holy father's message out there. It hardly behoves his supposed friends to do likewise.