Tongues have to be wagging at the Vatican this holiday season because of the pot that Pope Francis keeps stirring.
Instead of giving a traditional Christmas greeting, the first pope from Latin America whose life-focus has been on helping the poor flamed the cardinals, bishops and priests, saying they have used their careers to acquire power and wealth and are living “hypocritical” double lives, forgetting about being joyful men of God, The Associated Press reports. Pope Francis urged the prelates as they sat before him in the Sala Clementina to use the Christmas season to repent and atone and make the church a healthier, holier place in the New Year.
The Tuesday dressing down was long overdue — as in centuries. Some of Pope Francis’ phrases included men of the church succumbing to the “terrorism of gossip” that can “kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood.”
He noted that cliques can “enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body” and eventually kill it off by “friendly fire.” He also accused cardinals, bishops and priests of suffering from a “spiritual Alzheimer’s,” forgetting what drew them to the priesthood in the first place.
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Pope Francis on Friday also spoke out for the abused children, refugees, hostages and others suffering violence in the Middle East, Ukraine, Africa, and elsewhere. “May indifference be changed into closeness and rejection into hospitality,” he said.
Let’s hope the pope’s twin holiday messages take hold in the New Year and make a difference in the Catholic Church for the people the faith is supposed to serve.