Pope warns Vatican staff an “elegant demon” lurks among them

Pope Francis Attends His Weekly General Audience
Pope Francis speaks through the weekly common viewers on the Paul VI Hall on December 21, 2022 in Vatican City.

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Pope Francis warned Vatican bureaucrats on Thursday to beware the satan that lurks among them, saying it’s an “elegant demon” that works in individuals who have a inflexible, holier-than-thou way of life the Catholic religion.

Francis used his annual Christmas greeting to the Roman Curia to once more put the cardinals, bishops and monks who work within the Holy See on discover that they’re under no circumstances past reproach and are, the truth is, notably susceptible to evil.

Francis informed them that by dwelling within the coronary heart of the Catholic Church, “we could easily fall into the temptation of thinking we are safe, better than others, no longer in need of conversion.”

“Yet we are in greater danger than all others, because we are beset by the ‘elegant demon,’ who does not make a loud entrance, but comes with flowers in his hand,” Francis informed the churchmen within the Hall of Blessings of the Apostolic Palace.

Francis has lengthy used his Christmas handle for an annual dressing down of Vatican bureaucrats, taking them by means of a typical Jesuit-style “examination of conscience” to assist them repent within the run-up to Christmas.

His most blistering critique got here in 2014, when he listed the “15 ailments of the Curia” that some suffered, together with the “terrorism of gossip,” “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and of dwelling “hypocritical” double lives. The following year, Francis supplied an antidote to the sins by itemizing the “catalog of virtues” he hoped they might as an alternative comply with, together with honesty, humility and sobriety.

This year was comparable in tone, and Francis reprised his critique of types of abuse that even spiritual individuals use towards each other.

“There isn’t only the violence of weapons, there is verbal violence, psychological violence, the violence of abuse of power, the hidden violence of gossip,” Francis mentioned, in a potential reference to a brand new case of abuse of authority that’s roiling his personal Jesuit order. “Don’t take advantage of your own position and role to mortify the other.”

Beyond that, Francis appeared to additionally need to take broader intention at arch-conservatives and traditionalists who’ve turn into the pope’s largest critics. Francis blasted their way of life the religion, insisting that being Catholic doesn’t suggest following a never-changing set of dicta however is quite a “process of understanding Christ’s message that never ends, but constantly challenges us.”

“True heresy consists not only in preaching another gospel, as Saint Paul told us, but also in ceasing to translate its message into today’s languages and ways of thinking,” Francis mentioned.

Traditionalist Catholics have denounced Francis’ emphasis on mercy and openness to doctrinal wiggle room on points equivalent to sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. Some have even gone as far as to accuse him of heresy for a few of his gestures and preaching, together with permitting “pagan” statues within the Vatican.

Francis devoted the majority of his speech this year to the should be vigilant concerning the work of the satan, choosing up a theme he lately mentioned throughout his weekly catechism classes with most people.

He informed the Vatican bureaucrats it isn’t sufficient to merely condemn evil or root it out, because it usually comes again in several guises, stronger than earlier than. Francis used the time period “we” repeatedly, suggesting he consists of himself among these within the Vatican who should stay conscious of the satan of their midst.

“Before, it appeared rough and violent, now it shows up as elegant and refined,” he warned. “We need to realize that and once again to unmask it. That is how these ‘elegant demons’ are: they enter smoothly, without our even being conscious of them,” he mentioned.

Francis informed the story of a seventeenth century convent in Port Royal, France, the place the superior, Mother Angelique, had charismatically reformed herself and her monastery after evil crept in, however the satan got here again within the type of a inflexible religion.

“They had cast out the demon, but he had returned seven times stronger, and under the guise of austerity and rigor, he had introduced rigidity and the presumption that they were better than others,” Francis warned.

Some of Francis’ critics themselves have been within the viewers alongside along with his supporters. Returning to the annual Christmas ceremony was Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom Francis fired in 2020 and stripped of his rights as a cardinal after the pope accused him of economic misconduct.

Becciu is presently on trial, together with 9 different individuals, within the Vatican legal court docket and denies wrongdoing. Francis lately allowed him to renew collaborating in Vatican ceremonies, an indication the pope thinks he maybe jumped the gun in sanctioning Becciu earlier than a court docket dominated on his guilt or innocence.

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