Pope's recommendations towards healthy service


“The reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve.” Scandals cannot overshadow the important work the Roman Curia does “for the Pope and the entire Church, with dedication,” Francis said in this morning’s traditional Christmas address to the Roman Curia in the Clementine Hall. Last year, the Pope pronounced a powerful speech listing the “diseases” that can affect “every Christian, Curia, community, congregation, parish and ecclesial movement” and “require prevention, vigilance, care and sadly, in some cases, long and painful interventions”. This year, he presented a positive list of all necessary virtues for those working in the Curia. 

In his speech, the Pope recalled that some of the diseases he denounced in December 2014 “became evident in the course of the past year, no small pain to the entire body and harming many souls”. Here he was referring not only to the Vatileaks scandal but to other events as well.” “It seems necessary to state what has been – and ever shall be – the object of sincere reflection and decisive provisions. The reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve, since Ecclesia semper reformanda.” However, the Pope clarified, “even scandals cannot obscure the efficiency of the services rendered to the Pope and to the entire Church by the Roman Curia, with great effort, responsibility, commitment and dedication, and this is a real source of consolation”. It would therefore be “a grave injustice not to express heartfelt gratitude and needed encouragement to all those good and honest men and women in the Curia who work with dedication, devotion, fidelity and professionalism.” 

Francis emphasised that “resistance, difficulties and failures” are always “opportunities for growth and never for discouragement”. They are an opportunity to “return to what is essential”, to “come to terms with the awareness we have of ourselves, of God, of our neighbour, of the sensus Ecclesiae and the sensus fidei”. This is why, in the Year of Mercy the Pope is offering “practical aid”, in other words “a catalogue of needed virtues” for those who “would like to make their consecration or service to the Church more fruitful”, inviting heads of dicasteries “to add to this and to complete it”. It is an “acrostic analysis” of the word “M-i-s-e-r-i-c-o-r-d-i-a” (Italian for “Mercy”). 

Missionarietà (missionary spirit) and pastoralità (pastoral spirit)  
The missionary spirit “is what makes the Curia evidently fertile and fruitful” while “a sound pastoral spirit is an indispensable virtue for the priest in particular” and “the yardstick for our curial and priestly work”. 

Idoneità (idoneity) and Sagacità (sagacity)  
The first “involves acquiring the necessary requisites for exercising as best we can our tasks and duties with intelligence and insight”. “It does not countenance “recommendations” and payoffs”. Sagacity means a “readiness to grasp and confront situations with shrewdness and creativity”. 

Spiritualità (spirituality) and Umanità (humanity)  
Spirituality is “the backbone of all service in the Church and in Christian life”. Humanity “is what embodies the truthfulness of our faith”, what “makes us different from machines and robots, which feel nothing and are never moved. Once we find it hard to weep seriously or to laugh heartily, we have begun our decline and the process of turning from “humans” into something else.” 

Esemplarità (example) and Fedeltà (fidelity)  
Example means “avoiding scandals which harm souls and impair the credibility of our witness”. Fidelity to “our consecration, to our vocation”. Here, the Pope quoted the formidable words Jesus used to described those who scandalise the little: it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 

Razionalità (reasonableness) and Amabilità (gentleness)  
The first “helps us to avoid emotional excesses”, the second “to avoid an excess bureaucracy, programming and planning”. All excess, Francis said, “is a symptom of some imbalance”. 

Innocuità (innocuousness) and determinazione (determination)  
Innocuousness “makes us cautious in our judgement and able of refraining from impulsive and hasty actions”. Determination is “acting with a resolute will, clear vision, obedience to God” and only to the supreme law of the salvation of souls. 

Carità (charity) and Verità (truth)  
“Two inseparable virtues of Christian life… To the point that charity without truth becomes a destructive ideology of complaisance and truth without charity becomes myopic legalism”. 

Onestà (openness) and Maturità (maturity)  
Openness is “rectitude, consistency and absolute sincerity with regard both to ourselves and to God”. An honest and open person acts righteously even when there is no one watching over them, “an honest person has no fear of being caught  
since they never betray the trust of others”. And they are “never domineering like the “wicked servant” with regard to the persons or matters entrusted to his or her care”. Maturity, meanwhile, is “seeking to achieve harmony in our physical, mental and spiritual gifts”. 

Rispettosità (respectfulness) and Umiltà (humility)  
The first is a virtue of those “who always try to show genuine respect for others, for their own work, for their superiors and subordinates, for dossiers and papers, for confidentiality and privacy.” Humility is the virtue of those “godly persons who become all the more important as they come to realize that they are nothing, and can do nothing, apart from God’s grace”. 

Doviziosità (diligence) and Attenzione (attentiveness)  
There is no use, the Pope explained, in opening all the Holy Doors of all the basilicas in the world if the doors of our own heart are closed to love, if our hands are closed to giving, if our homes are closed to hospitality and our churches to welcome and acceptance. Attentiveness is concern for the little things, for doing our best and never yielding to our vices and failings.” 

Impavidità (intrepidness) and prontezza (alertness)  
“Not letting oneself be daunted by difficulties” and “acting with boldness and determination, not being lukewarm”. Alertness means “being able to act freely and with agility, without becoming attached to temporary material things” and without ever “letting oneself be weighed down by useless things, becoming caught up in one’s own plans and without allowing oneself to be overcome by ambition”. 

Affidabilità (accountability) and sobrietà (sobriety)  
An accountable person is “someone who is able to respect their commitments with seriousness and reliability when they are being observed but above all, when they are alone” and “they never betray the trust placed in them”. Sobriety is “the ability to renounce all that is superfluous and hold out against the dominant logic of consumerism”. It is about “looking at the world through God’s eyes and through the eyes of the poor, putting oneself in poor people’s shoes”. “A sober person is a simple person because they are able to boil down, retrieve, recycle, repair and exercise moderation”. 

Francis ended his speech by calling for mercy to guide our actions, inspire our reforms and enlighten our decisions”. May it “teach us when we need to move forward and when we need to take a step back”. The Pope also quoted a prayer which a US bishop dedicated to the Blessed Oscar Romero: It helps now and then to step back and take a long view… We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs”. 


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