Pope Francis to Roman Curia: Be vigilant against ‘the evil that quietly lurks among us’


Pope Francis speaking to the Roman Curia at the Vatican, Dec. 22, 2022 / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Dec 22, 2022 / 04:53 am (CNA).

Pope Francis warned the Roman Curia on Thursday that they need to be vigilant in the face of temptation by “elegant demons”  and “the evil that quietly lurks among us.”

In his annual Christmas address to the cardinals who work in Vatican offices on Dec. 22, the pope said that there is a temptation for those who serve“at the heart of the Church” to think that they are “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,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis speaking to the Roman Curia at the Vatican, Dec. 22, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis speaking to the Roman Curia at the Vatican, Dec. 22, 2022. Vatican Media

The pope underlined that “it is not enough to condemn evil, including the evil that quietly lurks among us.”

“We need to respond by choosing to be converted,” he said.

“Mere condemnation can give the illusion that we have solved the problem, whereas what really counts is making the changes that will ensure that we no longer allow ourselves to be imprisoned by evil ways of thinking, which are often those of this world.”

Pope Francis added that one of the most helpful virtues to aid in temptation is “the virtue of vigilance.”

He said that evil can “change its tactics, to become more insidious, to find new disguises that will be hard for us to see through.”

Quoting Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Luke, the pope said that when an unclean spirit has gone out of a person the spirit returns and brings “seven other spirits more evil than itself.”

Pope Francis explained that “the tempter always comes back, and he comes back in disguise.”

“Our initial conversion follows a certain pattern: the evil that we acknowledge and try to uproot from our lives does indeed leave us, but we would be naïve to think that it will long be gone. In short order, it comes back under a new guise. Before it appeared rough and violent, now it shows up as elegant and refined,” he said.

“Permit me to use the expression … these ‘elegant demons’ … enter smoothly, without our even being conscious of them. Only the daily practice of the examination of conscience can enable us to be aware of them,” the pope added.

Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia at the Vatican, Dec. 22, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia at the Vatican, Dec. 22, 2022. Vatican Media

Pope Francis has often used his annual December address, held in the Vatican’s gilded Hall of Benediction, to offer his frank perspective on the state of the Roman Curia.

In 2014, he famously diagnosed 15 spiritual “diseases” afflicting the Curia, including careerism and idolizing superiors. In 2020, the pope used the word “crisis” 44 times in his speech and called the Church to renewal.

In his 2022 Christmas greetings, Pope Francis returned to the theme of “conversion” again and again, including in reference to the recent 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

“What was the Council if not a great moment of conversion for the entire Church? As Saint John  XXIII observed: ‘The Gospel does not change; it is we who begin to understand it more fully.’ The conversion that the Council sparked was an effort to understand the Gospel more fully and to make it relevant, living and effective in our time,” he said.

Pope Francis added that “the error of trying to crystallize the message of Jesus in a single,  perennially valid form” is contrary to conversion.

“True heresy consists not only in preaching another gospel (cf. Gal 1:9), as Saint Paul told us, but also in ceasing to translate its message into today’s language and ways of thinking, which is precisely what the Apostle of the Gentiles did,” he said.

“To preserve means to keep alive and not to imprison the message of Christ.”

The pope also highlighted the plight of “war-torn Ukraine” and the many ongoing conflicts in different parts of the world.

“Anguished as we are by the spread of wars  and violence, we can and must make our own contribution to peace by striving to uproot from our hearts all hatred and resentment towards the brothers and sisters with whom we live,” he said.

Following his custom, Pope Francis gave Vatican officials books as a gift, including “The Life of Jesus,” written by Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication.

Vatican Media
Vatican Media

The pope’s speech to the Roman Curia and his following Christmas greetings to employees of Vatican City State were the last audiences on his public schedule before he is scheduled to preside over “Midnight Mass” at 7:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“God became a Child, and that Child, once grown, let himself be nailed on a cross. There is nothing weaker than one who is crucified, yet that weakness became the demonstration of God’s supreme power. In forgiveness, God’s power is always at work. May gratitude, conversion, and peace thus be the gifts of this Christmas,” Pope Francis said.

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  1. A new virtue — VIGILANCE — has appeared in our theological garden, having apparently eluded humanity’s detection for some 2,000 years. Fully aware of the demon of disguise now that Francis has taught us, our wisdom as serpents (Matthew 10:16) not only blossoms but flowers.

    [Has anyone an iron I can use to straighten out the deep and rigid irony?]

  2. This monologue might become a real dialogue, within the whole truth, if ever the “elegant demon” is distinguished and cast out from those permanent truths called moral absolutes–as affirmed in the discarded Veritatis Splendor.

    What does it mean–and what does it NOT mean!–to debunk the straw man: “error of trying to crystallize the message of Jesus in a single, perennially valid form.”

    “Crystallize?” The “polyhedral” church is at great risk of becoming a crystalline (!) anti-message in a zeitgeist-ish invalid form.

  3. The reason Jesus calls our first Pope, St. Peter, ‘Satan’, is because Peter is talking and thinking like the secular world talks and thinks. Matthew 16:23, He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Pope Francis, the German Bishops, and many Cardinals at the Vatican, think, act and talk, like the Secular world.

    EWTN’s ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ video will show you how the, ‘Liberal’ ‘Progressive’ ‘Democrats infiltrated the Catholic Church to destroy the Catholic Church. The Progressives started after WWI and have grown to become 800 covert organizations world wide, with the goal to destroy Christ’s Church. The Progressives have many operatives at top positions of power in our Catholic Church today.


  4. Ah, those elegant demons lurking among us, hurling condemnations rather than resolve. A parody. Cardinal Hollerich, is it you? By no means Mario [Grech]. I haven’t crystallized the Gospels since seminary at the Greg. Well then Jean-Claude, neither have I. Who is his Holiness referring to?
    Both turn their gaze toward aging, nonetheless stalworth [old English], conversion resistant Cardinal Zen.

  5. The Holy Father and the Cardinals at the Roman Curia are beacons of evangelization. May each one of them be blessed with strength and stamina to keep serving humanity in 2023 and beyond. A Blessed Christmas to all.

  6. The “conversion” Pope Francis describes here appears to me to be more to do with intelligent adaptation. Even as this is introduced he contrasts it with too much self-reliance, saying that this latter is “the Pelagianism of which I have spoken often.”

    On top of it, it is asserted that VATICAN II is the vehicle for endorsing and transposing the supposed version of conversion, as being a “forceful summons back to the Church.” These are in the first ZENIT link related with this CWR report.

    But I am wondering, while it is true grace does not stop at rejecting evil, grace doesn’t readmit the evil in the name of going forward or of adaptation. So then when there has to be a discussion of discernment, the contradictions are already in the works. See the second ZENIT link on discernment.

    In the CWR article from 2013 “Three pieces of advice about Pope Francis’ interview in America”, the last link, Pope Francis was actually being explicit about his vision; and the retrospect brings out the problems that do not resolve only as a matter of words.

    Pope Francis shows that what he does and what he does not do, are together what he is doing. I would point out, with my alarm, that the heavy concentrating of ideas trying to form out a new reality while jostling through meanings, is amounting to Modernism.




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  1. Pope Francis to Roman Curia: Be vigilant against ‘the evil that quietly lurks among us’ | Passionists Missionaries Kenya, Vice Province of St. Charles Lwanga, Fathers & Brothers
  2. Pope Francis to Roman Curia: Be vigilant against ‘the evil that quietly lurks among us’ | Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph (FSJ) , Asumbi Sisters Kenya

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