Gotcha! Pope Francis on “committing the terrorism of gossip” and other acts of unwellness

Pope Francis Curia

On Monday, the clergy and bureaucrats of the Vatican got a rude shock when Pope Francis used a routine address to launch an “excoriating” critique on the way they operate.

It’s priceless stuff, and will gladden the heart of anyone who’s been on the end of gossip – “committing the terrorism of gossip”, as he calls it – or watched, in fascinated repulsion, a colleague or associate shamelessly sucking up to a person of influence.

Following is a list of the 15 “ailments” (he thinks of a much better word than “sins”) that he finds in the Curia. It’s from an article by The Guardian (see link to article at the end of the post).

See how many you can identify from your own life, either in yourself or in the people around you, and enjoy the many funny, scorching lines. Oh yes, does this man have a sense of humour.

1. Feeling immortal, immune or indispensable. “A Curia that doesn’t criticise itself, that doesn’t update itself, that doesn’t seek to improve itself is a sick body.”

2. Working too hard. “Rest for those who have done their work is necessary, good and should be taken seriously.”

3. Becoming spiritually and mentally hardened. “It’s dangerous to lose that human sensibility that lets you cry with those who are crying, and celebrate those who are joyful.”

4. Planning too much. “Preparing things well is necessary, but don’t fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan.”

5. Working without coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. “When the foot tells the hand, ‘I don’t need you’ or the hand tells the head, ‘I’m in charge.'”

6. Having “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” “We see it in the people who have forgotten their encounter with the Lord … in those who depend completely on the here and now, on their passions, whims and manias, in those who build walls around themselves and become enslaved to the idols that they have built with their own hands.”

7. Being rivals or boastful. “When one’s appearance, the colour of one’s vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life.”

8. Suffering from “existential schizophrenia”. “It’s the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of hypocrisy that is typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that academic degrees cannot fill. It’s a sickness that often affects those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic work, losing contact with reality and concrete people.”

9. Committing the “terrorism of gossip”. “It’s the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people’s backs.”

10. Glorifying one’s bosses. “It’s the sickness of those who court their superiors, hoping for their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honour people who aren’t God.”

11. Being indifferent to others. “When, out of jealousy or cunning, one finds joy in seeing another fall rather than helping him up and encouraging him.”

12. Having a “funereal face”. “In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity. The apostle must be polite, serene, enthusiastic and happy and transmit joy wherever he goes.”

13. Wanting more. “When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he’ll feel more secure.”

14. Forming closed circles that seek to be stronger than the whole. “This sickness always starts with good intentions but as time goes by, it enslaves its members by becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body and causes so much bad scandals especially to our younger brothers.”

15. Seeking worldly profit and showing off. “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”

~ From “Pope Francis makes scathing critique of Vatican officials in Curia speech”, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, 22 December 2014.

Image: Franco Origlia/Getty



8 thoughts on “Gotcha! Pope Francis on “committing the terrorism of gossip” and other acts of unwellness

    • Kayti, I saw the “funereal face” up close at Midnight Eucharist at a local church on Christmas Eve. All the clergy “theatrically severe”, so stiff and serious, engaged in these seemingly pointless entrances and exits, all the while talking about the supposed joy of Christ’s birth.

      Loosen up, I wanted to shout. We want who you are, we want your humanity! Let yourself go! You won’t die if you don’t do it “right”!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Excellent Wisdom to live by….

    My goal this year is: to give MORE & think of myself LESS.

    I pray GOD will lead the way, give me direction.

    Kisses from MN. for you, Sweet Narelle. xx

    How was your Christmas?


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