Pope Francis laughs during private audience with Prime Minister Gonsalves of St. Vincent and Grenadines at Vatican
Pope Francis laughs as he meets with Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines during a private audience at the Vatican Dec. 19. (CNS photo/Tiziana Fabi, pool via Reuters)
Today, the Holy Father delivered his first Christmas address to the Roman Curia. Rocco Palmo observes at Whispers in the Loggia
during Benedict XVI's pontificate, the annual reflection became one of
the more anticipated papal addresses of the year. What would be the
approach taken by Francis?
much else this time around, it was unclear what Pope Francis would do
with his first turn at the speech today... but given the Argentine
pontiff's habit for dropping rhetorical bombs at any time especially
when top officials are present most observers went into this morning's
appointment expecting more, not less. While the result was much briefer
than Benedict's elegant, detail-rich meditations in years past, the new
Pope's usual "three words" on this occasion still packed a considerable
Here is the full text of the address, as translated by Vatican Radio:
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
again the Lord has enabled us to journey through Advent, and all too
quickly we have come to these final days before Christmas. They are days
marked by a unique spiritual climate made up of emotions, memories and
signs, both liturgical and otherwise, such as the crèche. It is in this
climate that this traditional meeting takes place with you, the
superiors and officials of the Roman Curia, who cooperate daily in the
service of the Church. I greet all of you with affection. Allow me to
extend a special greeting to Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who recently
began his service as Secretary of State, and who needs our prayers!
our hearts are full of gratitude to God, who so loved us that he gave
us his only-begotten Son, it is also good to make room for gratitude to
one another. In this, my first Christmas as the Bishop of Rome, I also
feel the need to offer sincere thanks to all of you as a community of
service, and to each of you individually. I thank you for the work which
you do each day: for the care, diligence and creativity which you
display; and for your effort I know it is not always easy to work
together in the office, both to listen to and to challenge one another,
and to bring out the best in all your different personalities and gifts,
in a spirit of mutual respect.
In a particular way, I want to
express my gratitude to those now concluding their service and
approaching retirement. As priests and bishops, we know full well that
we never really retire, but we do leave the office, and rightly so, not
least to devote ourselves more fully to prayer and the care of souls,
starting with our own! So a very special and heartfelt “thank you” goes
to those of you who have worked here for so many years with immense
dedication, hidden from the eyes of the world. This is something truly
admirable. I have such high regard for these “Monsignori” who are cut
from the same mould as the curiales of olden times, exemplary persons.
We need them today, too! People who work with competence, precision and
self-sacrifice in the fulfilment of their daily duties. Here I would
like to mention some of them by name, as a way of expressing my esteem
and my gratitude, but we know that, in any list, the first names people
notice are the ones that are missing! Besides, I would also risk
overlooking someone and thus committing an injustice and a lack of
charity. But I want to say to these brothers of ours that they offer a
very important witness in the Church’s journey through history.
mould and this witness make me think of two hallmarks of the curial
official, and even more of curial superiors, which I would like to
emphasize: professionalism and service.
which I mean competence, study, keeping abreast of things. This is a
basic requisite for working in the Curia. Naturally, professionalism is
something which develops and is in part acquired; but I think that,
precisely for it to develop and to be acquired, there has to be a good
foundation from the outset.
The second hallmark is service:
service to the Pope and to the bishops, to the universal Church and to
the particular Churches. In the Roman Curia, one learns in a real way,
“one breathes in” this twofold aspect of the Church, this interplay
of the universal and the particular. I think that this is one of the
finest experiences of those who live and work in Rome: “to sense” the
Church in this way. When professionalism is lacking, there is a slow
drift downwards towards mediocrity.
Dossiers become full of
trite and lifeless information and incapable of opening up lofty
perspectives. Then, too, when the attitude is no longer one of service
to the particular Churches and their bishops, the structure of the Curia
turns into a ponderous, bureaucratic customs house, constantly
inspecting and questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and
the growth of God’s people.
To these two qualities of
professionalism and service, I would also like to add a third, which is
holiness of life. We know very well that, in the hierarchy of values,
this is the most important.
Indeed, it is basic for the quality
of our work, our service. And I want to say here that in the Roman
Curia, there have been and there are saints; I have said this in public
more than once, to thank the Lord. Holiness means a life immersed in the
Spirit, a heart open to God, constant prayer, deep humility and
fraternal charity in our relationships with our fellow workers. It also
means apostleship, discreet and faithful pastoral service, zealously
carried out in direct contact with God’s people. For priests, this is
Holiness in the Curia also means conscientious
objection to gossip! We rightfully insist on the importance of
conscientious objection but perhaps we, too, need to exercise it as a
means of defending ourselves from an unwritten law of our surroundings,
which unfortunately is that of gossip. So let us all be conscientious
objectors; and mind you, I am not simply preaching! Gossip is harmful to
people, our work and our surroundings.
Dear brothers and
sisters, let us feel close to one another on this final stretch of the
road to Bethlehem. We would do well to meditate on Saint Joseph, who was
so silent yet so necessary at the side of Our Lady. Let us think about
him and his loving concern for his Spouse and for the Baby Jesus. This
can tell us a lot about our own service to the Church! So let us
experience this Christmas in spiritual closeness to Saint Joseph.
thank you most heartily for your work and especially for your prayers.
Truly I feel “borne aloft” by your prayers and I ask you to continue to
support me in this way. I, too, remember you before the Lord, and I
impart my blessing as I offer my best wishes for a Christmas filled with
light and peace for each of you and for all your dear ones. Happy