12/21/2017, 12.20
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Pope tells Curia to rise above danger of plots and betrayers of trust in spirit of service

In the traditional meeting for the exchange of Christmas greetings, Francis returns to denounce "small cliques" and " self-centredness". And people who "when they are quietly sidelined, they wrongly declare themselves martyrs of the system, of a “Pope kept in the dark”, of the “old guard”…, rather than reciting a mea culpa".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Roman Curia is and must be "of service" to the Pope's ministry and therefore to the universal Church, in a "diaconal" logic. The "unbalanced and debased mindset of plots and small cliques”…lead to “a self-centredness” and the "danger" represented by "betrayal of trust" or by those who "profiteer from the Church’s motherhood ", people who "do not understanding the lofty nature of their responsibility", "when they are gently dismissed, they falsely declare themselves to be martyrs of the system, of the 'uninformed Pope', of the 'old guard' ... instead of reciting the 'mea culpa'".

The presentation of Christmas greetings between the Pope and the Roman Curia is for Francis an opportunity to affirm the principles and essential points of his reform of the central structure of the Holy See (especially in 2016) or to indicate the "diseases" of which some who serve suffer (especially in 2014).

This year, " This year I would like to share with you some reflections on the Curia ad extra, that is, on its relationship with the nations, with the Particular Churches, with the Oriental Churches, with ecumenical dialogue, with Judaism, with Islam and other religions – in other words, with the outside world".

He continued that these reflections, "are based of course on the fundamental canonical principles of the Curia and on its own history, but also on the personal vision that I have sought to share with you in my addresses of recent years, within the context of the reform currently under way.” Reforms that require “patience, tenacity and sensitivity”.  “For the Curia is an ancient, complex and venerable institution made up of people of different cultures, languages and mindsets, and bound, intrinsically and from the outset, to the primatial office of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, that is, to the “sacred” office willed by Christ the Lord for the good of the entire Church (ad bonum totius corporis)".

The universality of the service of the Curia, therefore, "comes from the catholicity of the Petrine Ministry" and for this reason Francis has used in the past the expression "diaconal primacy", "referring immediately to the beloved image of St. Gregory the Great of Servus servorum Dei. This definition, in its Christological dimension, is above all an expression of the firm will to imitate Christ, who assumed the form of a servant ". "A similar diaconal attitude must also characterize those who, in various capacities, operate within the Roman Curia".

The reference to "ministerial diaconia" led Francis to recall "  a phrase in the ancient Didascalia Apostolorum, which states that “the deacon must be the ear and the mouth of the Bishop, his heart and his soul”.[6]  For this agreement between the two is linked to communion, harmony and peace in the Church, inasmuch as “the deacon is the guardian of service in the Church”.  And "St. Ignatius of Loyola has resorted to the senses in the contemplation of the Mysteries of Christ and of the truth".

"This is very important for rising above that unbalanced and debased mindset of plots and small cliques that in fact represent – for all their self-justification and good intentions – a cancer leading to a self-centredness that also seeps into ecclesiastical bodies, and in particular those working in them.  When this happens, we lose the joy of the Gospel, the joy of sharing Christ and of fellowship with him; we lose the generous spirit of our consecration (cf. Acts 20:35 and 2 Cor 9:7).

Here let me allude to another danger: those who betray the trust put in them and profiteer from the Church’s motherhood.  I am speaking of persons carefully selected to give a greater vigour to the body and to the reform, but – failing to understand the lofty nature of their responsibility – let themselves be corrupted by ambition or vainglory.  Then, when they are quietly sidelined, they wrongly declare themselves martyrs of the system, of a “Pope kept in the dark”, of the “old guard”…, rather than reciting a mea culpa.  Alongside these, there are others who are still working there, to whom all the time in the world is given to get back on the right track, in the hope that they find in the Church’s patience an opportunity for conversion and not for personal advantage.  Of course, this is in no way to overlook the vast majority of faithful persons working there with praiseworthy commitment, fidelity, competence, dedication and great sanctity”.

The Curia and the particular Churches

" The relationship between the Curia and Dioceses and Eparchies is of paramount importance.  In the Roman Curia these find whatever help and support they may need.  This relationship is grounded in cooperation and trust, and never on superiority or conflict".

" The Visits ad Limina Apostolorum, in this sense, represent a great opportunity for encounter, dialogue and mutual enrichment.  I have preferred, when meeting with Bishops, to have an open and sincere conversation that remains private and goes beyond the formalities of protocol and the customary exchange of speeches and recommendations.  Dialogue between the bishops and the various Dicasteries is also important.  In the course of the Visits ad Liminathat resumed this year, the Bishops told me that they were received well and listened to by all the Dicasteries.  This makes me very happy".

This framework also includes preparation for the next XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, convened on the theme Young people, faith and vocational discernment. " To call upon the Curia, the bishops and the entire Church to give particular attention to young people does not mean considering them alone.  It also means focusing on a critical theme for a combination of relationships and pressing issues, such as intergenerational relationships, the family, pastoral work, social life, and so forth".

The Curia and the Oriental Churches

"The unity and communion that dominate the relationship of the Church of Rome and the Eastern Churches represent a concrete example of richness in diversity for the whole Church. In fidelity to their own bimillennial traditions and in the ecclesiastical communio, they experience and realize the priestly prayer of Christ (cf. Jn 17).

"The relationship between Rome and the East is one of mutual spiritual and liturgical enrichment.  Indeed, the Church of Rome would not be truly catholic without the priceless riches of the Oriental Churches and lacking the heroic testimony of so many of our Oriental brothers and sisters who purify the Church by accepting martyrdom and offering their lives so as not to deny Christ".

The Curia and ecumenical dialogue

Also in the ecumenical "journey" - "an irreversible journey and not a going back" - the Curia works "at fostering encounter with our brothers and sisters, untying the knots of misunderstanding and hostility, and counteracting prejudices and the fear of the other, all of which have prevented us from seeing the richness in diversity and the depth of the Mystery of Christ and of the Church.  For that mystery is always greater than any human words can express. The meetings between Popes, Patriarchs and Heads of the different Churches and Communities have always filled me with joy and gratitude.

The Curia and Judaism, Islam, other religions

"The relationship of the Roman Curia to other religions is based on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the need for dialogue.  “For the only alternative to the civility of encounter is the incivility of conflict”.[26]  Dialogue is grounded in three fundamental lines of approach: “The duty to respect one’s own identity and that of others, the courage to accept differences, and sincerity of intentions.  The duty to respect one’s own identity and that of others, because true dialogue cannot be built on ambiguity or a willingness to sacrifice some good for the sake of pleasing others. The courage to accept differences, because those who are different, either culturally or religiously, should not be seen or treated as enemies, but rather welcomed as fellow-travellers, in the genuine conviction that the good of each resides in the good of all. Sincerity of intentions, because dialogue, as an authentic expression of our humanity, is not a strategy for achieving specific goals, but rather a path to truth, one that deserves to be undertaken patiently, in order to transform competition into cooperation”.

My meetings with religious leaders during the various Apostolic Visits and here in the Vatican, are a concrete proof of this". 

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