A most interesting look at the list of spiritual diseases Pope Francis recounted at his Christmas address to the Roman Curia. Here’s an excerpt of Damian Thompson’s column at the Spectator.
A funny way to wish your staff a Merry Christmas, you might think – but this is Francis, so the media were full of praise for his ‘devastating critique’ of the corrupt Curia. An exception was the veteran (and famously non-partisan) Vatican expert John Allen Jr, who asked whether ‘his sharp critiques have served to clarify his expectations and get his aides on the same page, or if they risk demoralising the very people he most needs to motivate’.
The Curia is undoubtedly full of lazy gossips and Machiavellian time-servers; but there are good people there too, and they’re sick of the Pope being rude about them. Some of them will have been running down the list of spiritual maladies and checking off ones that may just possibly afflict the Holy Father. Seen close up, he’s not as breezily benevolent as the photo-ops imply; charismatic figures rarely are. Some clergy in Argentina remember him as an unsmiling ass-kicker, so you can imagine them spluttering over their mate as they read that being ‘funeral-faced’ is one of Francis’s new cardinal sins.
Also, although the Pope speaks powerfully about gossip, forcing even the most loose-tongued commentators (I plead guilty) to think about the consequences of their words, you can’t help wondering if his hatred of rumour-mongers reflects a refusal to listen to criticism of people close to him.
I think the Pope’s list of spiritual diseases is perceptive and interesting and like the four temptations he named after the recent synod, I use them to examine myself. Damian Thompson has a point though. I wonder if the Pope makes snap judgments of people and then out of loyalty remains their friend and unwilling to listen to any warnings about them.
Also, I know some people who work in the Curia and they are saintly men.
As for liturgical colors in vestments, I think they are important because they signal what season in the Church year we are in, or whether the saint we are remembering that day is a martyr or not.
The vestments signify putting on Christ and the fact that the priest’s personal identity is clothed in Christ. Thus a very humble priest who puts on beautiful vestments is honoring Christ and not calling attention to himself.
I find it sad that many people love Pope Francis and hate the Catholic Church and use the popes words as proof they are right about the Church.