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.”
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)