Did Pope Francis tells the Holy See’s curia to stop inspecting and questioning the local churches?

In his Christmas address to the curia of the Holy See Pope Francis has told the Cardinals, Prefects and Secretaries to cease their  inspection and questioning of local churches because it hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.

Readers of Protect the Pope, on reflection I agree that there is another way of reading Pope Francis’ words, and that I may have taken them out of context as they stand. However, these words need to be considered in the light of his repeated statements that he wants to devolve powers to episcopal conferences and the apparent downgrading of the role of the CDF signified by its prefect not being appointed to the Congregation for Bishops.

Pope Francis said:

“This 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.

Professionalism, by 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.”

Protect the Pope comment: One of the responsibilities of the Holy See is to assist the Successor of St Peter in his leadership and oversight of the universal Church, which is a  unitive function of the Petrine office in the life of the Church. As the Catechism explains, ‘ The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” ”For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” (CCC 882).  Up until Pope Francis the Church understood that the Holy See’s questions and inspection of the local churches was the practical expression of the successor of Peter’s unhindered exercise of his  full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church. When Pope Francis’ words to the Roman curia are seen in the context of his expressed desire to devolve powers to the national episcopal conferences it appears that the Bishop of Rome is set on radically changing the nature and role of the pope and the Holy See in the Catholic Church. Does he see the Catholic Church as a confederation of national churches? How can such diversity and divergence be reconciled with the understanding that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic?

 

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/pope-francis-christmas-address-to-roman-curia-full-text

 

 

41 comments to Did Pope Francis tells the Holy See’s curia to stop inspecting and questioning the local churches?

  • (X)MCCLXIII

    God help us.

  • Joseph Matthew

    Is this something like the model followed by Eastern Orthodoxy? A collection of autonomous churches often at war with each other?

  • Genty

    This obviously does not apply to the FFI. Bring on the liturgical dancers.

  • Peter 2

    Yes, I know we need to pray, hope, and trust…but putting that aside for just one moment, is it OK to start panicking now?

  • Sixupman

    “How can such diversity ….. ?” It can’t! From autonomous Bishops’ Conferences, O Lord preserve us.

  • Michael Petek

    ….two hallmarks of the curial official, and even more of curial superiors, which I would like to emphasize: professionalism and service.

    Professionalism, by 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 indispensable.

  • “Pope Francis has told the Cardinals, Prefects and Secretaries to cease their inspection and questioning of local churches because it hinders the work of the Holy Spirit”

    Having looked at the text of the holy father’s address this is NOT what I see him saying. Rather he seems to me to be contrasting the good practice he has already commented upon and expressed his gratitude for with its hypothetical opposite. He urges them to continue being “professional” and his remarks have more of the character a pep talk than of a set of instructions and that, in my opinion, is where so many commentators- of all kinds- seem to get Pope Francis wrong.

    Perhaps we might revert to “protecting” the Pope rather than looking to criticise.

  • Rifleman819

    This sort of model works really , really well in the Anglican Communion , or so I’m told…….ahem

  • It would appear that Pope Francis wishes to put you out of a job, Nick. No need for your blog if there is no real Pope to defend.

    • I’m sure the moderator of this blog is too intelligent to fall into the trap of “protecting papolatry”. No pope is ever above criticism and if a pope is endangering the Faith, then, as all the great theologians teach, the faithful have a duty to speak out to correct him. If Pope Francis doesn’t fall into that category of pontiffs who need public correction, with his various shenanigans not to mention #247 of his First Apostolic Exhortation, then I’d like to meet the pope who does fall into that lamentable category.

    • Lionel (Paris)

      Excellent humour, Laurence!
      Joyeux Noël!

  • Andrzej

    OK, everyone, this is the deal:

    1) It is a questions of time before the Pope will have to flee Rome. This is clear if we see the totalitarian directions the West in taking. It mat be 15 or 60 years, but it will happen.

    2) It is likely that in light of the above, the will be a breakdown in leadership/organizational structure

    3) What type of organizing of the Church is most likely to withstand such a cutting off of the head?

    4) A dispersed power, not centralized it the likely way for the Church to survive in the times to come

    The above is a my charitable interpretation of all that is happening. Extraordinary means for extraordinary times.

    • Damask Rose

      Dear Andrzej
      I’ve read what you’ve said, but I think you may be coming at it from not quite the right angle. What I mean is that what you’ve put in your 1-4 points is an example of what the Church has/is/will(?) do to itself.
      If the Church was strong, the Papacy speaking the Faith in clear terms, witnessing, by wearing the right papal vestments, papal regalia and so on, everybody would know where we stood.
      OK, so we may be persecuted in the near future, think practicing your faith catacomb-like, but all Catholics world-wide would draw strength from a strong Peter – Rome. If Peter had to go into exile, that’s all it is, exile. But Rome is eternal. Because Peter was crowned Caesar by Jesus at Caesarea Philippi in Syria (spelling? – hope I’ve got my facts right here?), we Catholics are the new Imperial Rome. In bad times, we expect Peter to be crucified upside-down in St Peter’s Square. Think St Pope Sixtus II and St Lawrence.

      What you’ve described is sects. This is why Catholicism is the enemy of the state. We are loyal to Christ and his Emperor Peter.

  • ‘…inspecting and questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and the growth of God’s people.’

    The Holy See needs to inspect and question IN ORDER TO ASCERTAIN whether the Holy Spirit is at work and God’s people are growing, no?

    But, nevermind, because in England and Wales and other countries, when people complain about mediocrity and stagnation resulting from weak and tepid Bishops, little happens anyway because the crisis is too great.

    Now they’re being promoted to top jobs in Rome while the bold and courageous are being moved aside.

  • kfca

    You ask: “How can such diversity and divergence be reconciled with the understanding that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic?”. I suspect that our new regime, now having the supreme power they have long thirsted for, have moved beyond such considerations. (I suspect that we will learn more as we await, amongst other things, [and with considerable dread], these reported ‘surprises’ that Pope Francis and Mr Welby have yet to reveal).

    In a earlier post you quoted Fr Timothy Radcliffe, while he was attempting an exposition of Dante, as stating,” The really grave sins, for which people get a serious roasting, are telling lies, being violent and, worst of all, the betrayal of friends.”

    Actually, the worst sin is treachery perpetrated against Our Lord and His Kingdom. And the license now given to the Sons of Judas, emboldening them to creep out from under their rocks so as to ensnare the faithful with all manner of vile and despicable heresy is deeply painful to have to watch.

    BTW, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but have you at any point considered changing the name of your excellent blog, to ‘Protect the papacy’, perhaps, moving the focus onto this Glorious Office rather than that of any individual incumbent who happens to have been temporarily entrusted with it; or even, ‘Protect the Faith’?

  • Here’s my response to all this heresy in the Catholic Church:

    1. I’m praying to St Anthony to help me find the true path because the shepherds are doing everything they can to lead us astray:(

    2. I’ve suspended my blog in protest against the heresy which seems to be emanating from our chief shepherd…

    Deacon Nick
    Thank you for your faithful efforts
    but things are getting too ridiculous
    ordinary Catholics have somehow got to make a stand
    against all this madness…

  • Rifleman819

    All ,
    Is there any news of Benedict?

  • ConfusedofChi

    And confused I am…….

  • jacobi

    I have read the Pope’s address to the Roman Curia. It is a perfectly standard address, such as any director would give to his managers. And he emphasises a further quality, as I would expect, holiness.

    He is the Vicar of Christ after all and not just the Chairman. Managers must manage. That is their job. In their case however, they only have authority, as individuals or as a college, if they are united and in compliance with the Vicar of Christ, and remember, he in turn is united with the teaching authority of the Magisterium of the Church and all his Papal predecessors going back to Peter. Neither he nor the present bishops are free to make up their minds other than in Continuity with two thousand years of Catholicism.

    For example, Cardinal Kasper may well advocate Holy Communion for the divorced and re-married, that is those living in a state of Mortal Sin, but if so, his views are heretical, Cardinal or otherwise, and he would share in the guilt of Mortal Sin.

    Yes of course we must be caring of such people, as of any other grave sinners. They must attend Mass for the Grace thereof. They, and of course any other grievous sinners, just cannot, under pain of Mortal Sin, receive Holy Communion.

  • Genty

    @kfca. Funnily enough, I had the very same thought today about the possibility of modifying the blog title.

  • William

    Does that apply to the Franciscans of the Immaculate or only to liberal radicals like the LCWR?

  • iggy o'donovan

    Bless you Holy Father. Where there is darkness you bring light.
    Iggy o Donovan

  • Wake up England

    What an utter betrayal of duty.

  • JabbaPapa [Julian Lord]

    I agree with Patricius — the reports that the Holy Father might have told the Curia “to stop inspecting and questioning the local churches” seem rather inaccurate.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/speeches/2013/december/documents/papa-francesco_20131221_auguri-curia-romana_it.html

    He has instead instructed them that this work must be tempered by Professionalism, Service, and Holiness.

    How can he be asking for these qualities to accompany that work if he intended it to be abandoned ?

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      ‘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.’Pope Francis to the Curia in his Christmas address 2013.

      • The Holy Father’s point, surely, is that it is
        “WHEN the attitude is no longer one of service” (my emphasis) that the curia becomes these negative things. He is not necessarily saying that it IS!
        I am sorry, but you have appeared to take a small passage out of context from a much larger piece in which Pope Francis is very positive about the longstanding virtues of those who work in the Curia.

        • (X)MCCLXIII

          The problem is that we have a pope whose every utterance – or so it seems – admits of multiple, contradictory interpretations. Nobody knows what he is trying to say; everyone seems to have his own interpretation of the pope’s words. I think even the pope himself doesn’t know what he means. We have – I’m sorry to have to say it, but there it is – a Humpty-Dumpty pope.

          I’m sure this particular example is very far from being the worst.

          • (X)MCCLXIII

            Things like this are driving faithful catholics to distraction, and causing scandal worldwide: http://eponymousflower.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/lies-i-was-cheated-pope-francis-daring.html

            There’s far too much of this kind of thing for those who blame the messenger to retain much credibility.

          • JabbaPapa [Julian Lord]

            (X)MCCLXIII : a pope whose every utterance – or so it seems – admits of multiple, contradictory interpretations

            His words are typically far less problematic when reading the original Italian or Spanish as the case may be — especially in the Italian, as a certain degree of imprecision or even self-contradiction or irony or paradox is a frequent component of the more elevated and civilised/educated form of the language, and is to some degree even expected of one.

            Having said that, Pope Francis is also a mystic, so described in his own words, which in itself can cause some confusion in his readers.

      • JabbaPapa [Julian Lord]

        And ?

        How does this constitute a request “to stop inspecting and questioning the local churches” ?

        A warning to the Curia against the danger of doing nothing else is NOT a request to abandon those tasks altogether.

      • Dominic MacCarthy

        One wonders what Jorge Bergoglio’s experience of the Curia was like when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Perhaps some of the treatment he received during those years from various Roman Congregations, or on ad limina visits, has contributed to his sometimes negative take on the Curia. It would be interesting to know some background about this. Maybe a general feeling that the Roman centre doesn’t understand the situation of the Church in Latin America all that well? And that Latin American preoccupations are very different from those which have been central in the European churches.

        You can imagine, for example, a good orthodox and apostolic bishop who is innovative in his pastoral methods and well attuned to the local situation. But because he is doing some things which the Curial officials in Rome are not used to – because they come from different continents – he meets suspicion and interrogation about his methods, which he understandably resents.

        On the other hand, there are Curial priests and monsignori who are experts in canon law, doctrine, child protection even, who have the unenviable task of telling certain bishops – who are not experts in these fields – that something they are doing is irregular or even illegal. The bishops then resent being told off by “jumped up monsignori”, when they did actually need to be set straight about some matters. It is no bad thing that bishops are occasionally reminded that they do not have unlimited power in their own domains – they have to operate within the Church’s canon law and understanding of doctrine. They are there to serve God and the people, and not to impose their own ideology or preferences – like any parish priest in fact.

        In any organisation there will be frictions between different levels of management. It may be six of one and half a dozen of the other….

        Maybe the stress in what Pope Francis said should be on the word “constantly” – constantly inspecting and questioning – which would indicate a mistrust from the centre towards the local Church – especially when such an overbearing and over-censorious attitude is in fact “hindering the work of the Holy Spirit and the growth of God’s people.” It’s a long time ago, but think of the Chinese rites controversy of the 17th century. China might by now have been half Catholic if Rome had allowed them to celebrate Liturgy in Chinese back in 1704 !

  • Brad

    Come back Benedict,please!

  • Rifleman819

    Dear All,
    On another thread ……I mentioned the case of StAthanasius the Great…who had the moral courage to take on the prevalent Arian heretics in the church …….he was often alone , bullied and exiled….”Athanasius contra mundum”……………but he never gave up.
    In the long term the Arian heresy was defeated and Athanasius is honoured as a Doctor of the Church.
    Cede Nullis!

  • Shaun the Sheep

    Sad times but Our Lady of Fatima warned us.

    Perhaps the blog should be renamed ‘Correct the Pope’.

    I share the pain and dismay Catholic must be feeling at this time, as I am.

    It’s all a bit of a kick in the teeth. We’re well used to it by now but it’s still very disappointing.

    Happy Christmas everyone!

  • Michael Jarmulowicz

    Bible passages can be totally misinterpreted when taken out of context, hence CCC 112 instruction ‘Be especially attentive to the content and unity of the whole Scripture.’ I think we need to be careful of taking single phrases (and as some have pointed out there may be translation issues) and then making judgements about Pope Francis’ intentions. Let us look at the whole context of what he is doing and the priorities he emphasizing.
    As humans we like stability, and change (including of style) can be disconcerting. Let us remember that his talk to the curia also urged a life of holiness with constant prayer and deep humility. If listened to and obeyed such a life will not drift away from God and into heresy.
    Let us trust the Holy Spirit and Jesus guarantee to be with his church. Let us not forget that the Arian heresy did not originate in Rome!

  • Lionel (Paris)

    “How can such diversity and divergence be reconciled with the understanding that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic?”
    This is the question, a real concern…
    That might create autocephalous Churches and thefore, many divisions!

  • Lionel (Paris)

    THE SACRIFIED ROMAN CURIA
    We should keep in mind that it is probably the final offensive against the Roman Curia.
    It is clear that the Bishops Conferences want to increase their power which is already significant enough.
    I have been told that Pope Francis was elected to the condition that he does grant them an even greater status… It is ultimately a seizure of power.
    Now, the legitimacy of the Bishops Conferences cannot theologically be justified as each Bishop is the Shepherd of his diocese under the Authority of the Supreme Pontiff. Therefore, the structures of the Church are turned upside down.
    I apprehend that all these reforms taken, as usual without fear of offending the faithful, do cause greater disturbances into the Church.
    In conclusion, I think that the Authorities of the Church are in the process of cutting the branch on which they are sitting.
    Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate protect and will save the Church; it is a certainty.
    Merry Christmas to all of you! LD

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