February 22, 2016

Pope Francis softens tone in address to Vatican staff

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Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a Mass for the Jubilee of the Roman Curia at the Vatican, February 22, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a Mass for the Jubilee of the Roman Curia at the Vatican, February 22, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis urged Vatican staff to act as pastors and avoid temptation, a softening of the critical tone the pontiff has previously adopted with employees of the Roman Curia, or central administration.

“In our workplaces too may we feel, cultivate and practice a strong pastoral sense, especially towards the people we encounter every day,” Francis told members of the Curia at Mass on Monday (Feb. 22).

“May no-one feel neglected or mistreated, but may everyone be able to experience, especially here, the loving care of the Good Shepherd,” he added.

During his homily, the pope also spoke of allowing God to “free us from every temptation that distances us from the essence of our mission.”


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The pope’s address stood in stark contrast to the harsh tone he has taken previously. In December 2014 Francis suggested administrators suffered from a “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and listed a “catalog of illnesses” at the heart of the Holy See. He also rallied against those who sought power and warned of the “terrorism of gossip” and cliques.

One of Francis’ top priorities has been to reform the Curia, which is often accused of mismanagement. Two books released late last year used numerous leaked documents to outline the extent of resistance within the Vatican to the pope’s efforts.

Francis’ Christmas address came weeks later and saw the pope prescribe a “catalog of needed virtues” rather than listing only vices.

But despite adopting a softer tone, the pope also took the opportunity in December to remind employees of his plans, saying: “The reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve.”

(Rosie Scammell is RNS’ Vatican correspondent)

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  • Betty Clermont

    Pope Francis has not “reformed” the Vatican other than replacing his predecessor’s loyalists with his own and replacing layman close to the Bank of Italy, which has been prosecuting the Vatican for money laundering, with international vulture capitalists.
    The two books revealed continuing financial corruption during this pontificate which is why the pope indicted Nuzzi and Fittipaldi for disclosing his secrets. When the defense called witnesses who could testify that money donated for charity is being withheld from the poor, the trial was suspended. It will not be resumed.
    Re: “resistance in the curia,” no matter how much nice stuff the pope says, he cannot erase from their minds the stinging accusations of corruption he made in Dec. 2014.

  • Ray Cadorette

    Stubborn Ray
    I remain hopeful that Pope Francis will succeed in moderating the power and influence of the Vatican Bureaucrats. “Vaticrats” have had far too much influence in protecting Bishops and Cardinals who abetted the crimes of pedophile and other errant priests over past decades and sneakily reversing the progress achieved with Vatican II and trying to move the Church back to the Middle Ages.
    One would think that our Lord Jesus and his Apostles all conversed in Latin the way some of our Hierarchy seek to have Lay Catholics worship, pray and sing in this foreign language.