Since this is a blog about health, I think I’ll post this. It was Pope Francis’ Christmas greeting yesterday to religious officials at the Vatican, the “Roman Curia.”
“Sometimes,” said Pope Francis, “[Officials of the Curia] feel themselves ‘lords of the manor’ – superior to everyone and everything,” forgetting that the spirit, which should animate them in their lives of service to the universal Church, is one of humility and generosity, especially in view of the fact that none of us will live forever on this earth.
“The Curia is always required to better itself. … However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia.”
The 15 ailments, in summary:
1. The first is “the sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others.”
2. The second is “’Martha-ism’, or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work. … Neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation.”
3. “The sickness of mental and spiritual hardening: that of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper. … It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to be able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice!”
4. “The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant. … One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions.”
5. The “sickness of poor coordination. … Members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team.”
6. “Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease. … This is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views. … We see this in those who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted.”
7. “The ailment of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the colour of one’s robes, insignia and honours become the most important aim in life.”
8. Then there is “existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honours. … They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life”.
9. The sickness of “chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord. … It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.
10. “The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism. … They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.
11. “The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person fall instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”.
12. “The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity”.
13. “The disease of accumulation: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure.”
14. “The ailment of closed circles. … This sickness too may start from good intentions but, as time passes, enslaves members and becomes a ‘cancer’ that threatens the harmony of the Body and causes a great deal of harm – scandals – especially to our littlest brothers”.
15. The “disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others”.
I read that the audience of cardinals, bishops, and priests replied with tepid applause.