“I ask forgiveness for the scandals that have occurred in the Vatican. Those who have made mistakes shall repent. Pope Francis said during the speech he addressed to the cardinals and to the superiors of the Roman Curia, received for Christmas wishes in the Sala Clementina. “Last year, to prepare for the sacrament of Reconciliation, we faced some temptations and ‘diseases’ – he recalled – that could affect every Christian, every curia, community, congregation, parish and ecclesiastic movement. Diseases which require prevention, vigilance, care and, unfortunately, in some cases, painful and prolonged operations. Some of these diseases manifested in the course of this year, causing enough pain to the whole body and wounding many souls”.
It seems only right, according to Bergoglio, “to say that this has been – and will always be – object of sincere reflection and decisive measures. The reformation will go on with firmness, lucidity, and resolution because Ecclesia semper reformanda. Diseases and even scandals will not be able to hide the efficiency of the services which the Roman Curia makes to the Pope and the whole Church with fatigue, responsibility, commitment, and dedication. This is a true consolation. St. Ignatius taught ‘that it is proper to bad spirits to prick, sadden, created difficulties and upset with false reasons, to impede to move forward; whereas it is proper to good spirits give courage and energies, consolations and tears, inspirations and serenity, diminishing and removing every difficulty, to go forward on the path of good'”.
The Pope listed a catalog of 12 indispensable virtues for those who serve inside the Church. The list is “not exhaustive” which the Superiors are called to examine more into detail, enrich and complete.
Missionary and pastoral spirit. “The missionary spirit – Bergoglio explained – is what makes, and shows the curia fertile and fruitful; it is the proof of the effectiveness, efficiency and authenticity of our work. Faith is a gift, but the dimensions of our faith is shown also by our ability to communicate it. Every baptized person is a missionary of the Good News first of all with his/her own life, with his work and his joyful and convincing testimony. A sound pastoral spirit is an indispensable virtue especially for every priest. It is the daily commitment to follow the Good Shepherd who takes care of his sheep and gives his life to save the lives of others. This is the measurement of our Curial activity and priestly life. Without these two wings, we will never be able to fly, nor reach the beatitude of the ‘faithful serve”.
Suitability and readiness. “Suitability – the Pontiff stressed – requires the personal effort to acquire the necessary requirements to exercise the best possible way their responsibilities and activities with intellect and intuition. It is against recommendations and bribes. Readiness of mind to understand and deal with situations with wisdom and creativity. Suitability and readiness represent also the human response to the divine grace, when each of us follows that famous saying: ‘do everything as if God did not exist and, later, leave everything to God as if I did not exist. It is the behavior of the disciple who addresses the Lord every day with these words of the beautiful universal prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI: ‘guide me with thy wisdom, support me with thy righteousness, encourage me with your goodness, preserve me with thy strength. I offer you, my Lord: my thoughts, so they can be towards You; my words, so they can be about You; actions, so it can be according to You; tribulations, so they can be for you'”.
Spirituality and humanity. “Spirituality – Francis has said – is the backbone of all service inside the Church and in Christian life. It is what feeds all our work, supports it and protects it from human frailty and the temptations of daily life. Humanity is what embodies the veracity of our faith. Those who renounce their own humanity, renounce everything. Humanity is what makes us different from machines and robots who do not feel and cannot be moved. When we find it difficult to cry seriously or laugh passionately, starts our decline and our process of transformation from ‘men’ into something else. Humanity is knowing how to show tenderness and familiarity and courtesy to everyone. Spirituality and humanity, despite being inborn qualities, are potential that need to be realized entirely, to be reached and demonstrated constantly, on a daily basis.”
Exemplarity and fidelity. “Blessed Paul VI reminded the Curia ‘its vocation to be exemplary’. Exemplarity he has affirmed – to avoid scandals that injure souls and threaten the credibility of our witness. Fidelity to our consecration, to our vocation, always remembering the words of Christ: ‘those who are faithful in things of little importance, are faithful also in important things; and those who are dishonest in things of little account are dishonest also in important things’ and ‘those who will outrage one of these little ones who believe in me, would better hang a millstone to their neck and be thrown into the depths of the sea. Woe betide the world for scandals! Scandals happen inevitably, but woe betide the man who causes the scandal!’
Rationality and kindness. Rationality is needed to avoid excessive emotionality and kindness to avoid excessive bureaucracy, schedules, and planning. Those skills are needed for the balance of the personality: ‘The enemy watches with care whether a soul is coarse or delicate; if it is delicate, he brings its sensitiveness to the limit, to anguish and confuse it even more. Any excess is the sign of lack of balance'”.
Harmlessness and determination. “Harmlessness that makes us cautious in judgment, capable to abstain from impulsive and hasty actions – Bergoglio has stressed -. It is ability to make emerge our best side, the best side of the others and that of the situations by acting with attention and understanding. Do to the others what you wish to done to yourself. Determination is acting with resolute will, with clear vision and with obedience to God, and only for the supreme law of the salus animarum“, the Pope explains the sense of the sixth precious virtue. Charity and Truth. “Two inseparable virtues of the Christian existence: ‘to make truth in charity and live charity in truth’. To the point that charity without truth becomes ideology of destructive goodness and truth without love becomes ‘blind’ judiciality”.
Honesty and maturity. “Honesty is righteousness, consistency and acting with absolute sincerity towards ourselves and towards God. Those who are honest – the Bishop of Rome recalled – do not act rightly only under the gaze of the supervisor or of the Superior; a honest person is not afraid of being surprised, because (s)he never deceives those who trust him/her. A honest person does never domineer over people or things with which they have been entrusted to administer, like the ‘evil serve’ does”. Honesty “is the basis on which all other qualities rest. Maturity is the research to achieve harmony between our physical, psychic and spiritual. Abilities It is the goal and the outcome of a process of development that never ends and that does not depend on our age”.
Respect and humility. “Respect is the quality of noble and delicate souls; people who always seek to have proper consideration of the others, of their role, of the superiors and of the subordinated, of procedures, documents, discretion and confidentiality; people who know how to listen carefully and talk politely. Humility instead – he said – is the virtue of the saints and of people full of God, who, the more they grow in importance, the more grows in them awareness of being nothing and not being able to do anything without the grace of God”.
Richness and attention. “The more confidence we have in God and His providence, the richer our soul is and the more open we are to give, knowing that the more you give, the more you receive. In reality, – he warned – it is useless to open all the Holy Doors of all the basilicas of the world if the door of our heart is closed to love, if our hands are closed to giving, if our houses are closed to hosting and if our churches are closed to accommodating.
Attention is care of the details and offering the best of ourselves and never lower our guard on our vices and shortcomings. St. Vincent de Paul prayed the following way: ‘Lord, help me to notice immediately: those who are next to me, those who are worried and disoriented, those who are suffering without giving any signs, those who feel isolated without wanting it'”.
Fearlessness and promptness. “Being fearless means not letting oneself be scared in the face of difficulties, as Daniel in the den of lions, like David in front of Goliath; it means acting with boldness and determination and without tepidity – the Pope has clarified – ‘as a good soldier’; it means being able to take the first step without delay, like Abraham and Mary. Whereas promptness is knowing how to act with freedom and agility without sticking to material things that are ephemeral. The Psalm says: ‘To wealth, even when it is abundant, do not tie your heart’. Being ready means being always on the way, without ever getting overburden, without accumulating useless things and closing in our own projects, and without being dominated by ambition”.
Reliability and sobriety. “A reliable person is someone who knows how to maintain commitments with seriousness and reliability when he is watched over but especially when he is alone; A reliable person is someone who radiates sense of calm around him because he never betrays the trust he has been granted. Sobriety – the last virtue on this list, but not in terms of importance – is the ability to renounce the superfluous and to resist the dominant consumerist logic. Sobriety is prudence, simplicity, essentiality, balance and temperance. Sobriety is looking at the world with the eyes of God and with the eyes of the poor and from the perspective of the poor. Sobriety is a style of life that indicates the primacy of the other as a hierarchical principle and that expresses existence as care and service toward the others. Those who are sober, are people who are coherent and essential in everything, because they know to reduce, recover, recycle, repair and live with sense of measure”.