The Holy Father received the members of the Roman Curia on December 21, 2017, for the traditional Christmas greetings ceremony, during which he gave a strong speech, exhorting his collaborators to fulfill their roles at the side of the successor of Peter more perfectly.
Francis made a comparison to describe the reform of the Curia: “Making reforms in Rome is like cleaning the Sphinx with a toothbrush.” A way of showing the complexity of the task he undertook four years ago, but a comparison that is anything but flattering for the Curia.
The Pope also insisted on the openness and obedience he expects from his collaborators: “A Curia closed in on itself would betray its own raison d’être and plunge into self-referentiality and ultimately destroy itself,” he declared, adding that he would like them to rise “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.”
The Holy Father’s words recall his speech on December 22, 2014. In his Christmas greeting that day, the pope spoke of the illnesses afflicting his collaborators, and did not hesitate to speak of “Spiritual Alzheimer’s.” Three years later, he speaks of cancer.
There is another danger for the Curia. Francis enigmatically described it as the attitude of “those who betray the trust put in them and profiteer from the Church’s motherhood.” These are persons who little by little “let themselves be corrupted by ambition or vainglory”, and “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.”
These Christmas greetings are traditionally one of the most eagerly awaited speeches of the year, and will also be the object of the most diverse reception and comments: no dubium about it! But still no answer from the Pope to the dubia on Amoris Laetitia.