Pope warns Vatican staff about an ‘elegant demon’ lurking among them

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday warned Vatican officials to beware of the devil lurking among them, saying it is an “elegant demon” active in people with a hardline Catholic faith lifestyle. Remember, holier than you.

Pope Francis used his annual Christmas greeting to the Roman Curia to once again remind the cardinals, bishops and priests who work at the Holy See that they are absolutely blameless and above all else. In fact, they are especially vulnerable to evil.

Francis told them that when we live in the heart of the Catholic Church, “we can easily fall into the temptation to think that we are safe, better than others, that we do not need to convert.”

“However, we are in more danger than everyone else, because we are surrounded by the ‘elegant demon’ who does not enter loudly, but comes with flowers in hand,” Duc said. Francis speaks to parishioners in the Mosque’s Blessing Hall. Tong Electric.

Pope Francis has long used his Christmas address to criticize Vatican officials each year, taking them through a typical Jesuit-style “examination of conscience” to help them repent before Mass. Christmas.

His most scathing critique came in 2014, when he listed the “15 diseases of the Curia” that some suffer from, including “the terror of rumors,” “spiritual Alzheimer’s disease,” ” and living a double life of “hypocrisy”. The following year, Francis offered an antidote to sin by listing a “list of virtues” he hoped they would follow, including honesty, humility, and moderation.

This year took on a similar tone, and Francis repeated his criticism of the forms of abuse that even religious people use against each other.

“There is not only violence with weapons, there is also verbal violence, psychological violence, abuse of power, covert gossip violence,” the pope said, in an allusion. the possibility of a new abuse of power. shuffle their own Jesuit order. “Don’t take advantage of your position and role to torture others.”

Additionally, Francis also seems to want to target more broadly conservatives and traditionalists, who have become the pope’s biggest critics. Pope Francis criticized their way of living their faith, stressing that being Catholic does not mean following a set of unchanging commandments but a “process of understanding Christ’s message without fail.” never ending, but constantly challenging us”.

“True heresy includes not only the preaching of another gospel, as Saint Paul told us, but also the cessation of translation of its message into today’s languages ​​and ways of thinking,” Francis said. speak.

Traditionalist Catholics have denounced Pope Francis’ emphasis on mercy and openness for potentially swaying doctrine on issues like the sacraments for divorced and remarried Catholics. civil kiss. Some even went as far as to accuse him of being a heretic for some of his gestures and preaching, including allowing the erection of statues of “pagans” in the Vatican.

Pope Francis spent much of his speech this year on the need to be vigilant about the work of the devil, choosing a topic he discussed recently during his weekly public catechesis.

He told Vatican officials that simply condemning evil or uprooting it is not enough, as it often comes back under different guises, stronger than before. Francis has used the term “we” several times, implying that he includes himself among those in the Vatican who must be mindful of the devil in their midst.

“Before, it seemed rough and violent, now it appears elegant and refined,” he warns. “We need to recognize that and expose it once again. That’s how these ‘elegant demons’ work: they infiltrate so smoothly that we don’t even know it,” he said.

Pope Francis told the story of a 17th-century convent in Port Royal, France, where the superior, Mother Angelique, charmingly reformed herself and her convent after the devil crept in, but the ghosts The devil has returned in the form of a rigid faith.

“They drove out the demons, but he came back seven times stronger, and under the guise of austerity and severity, he introduced rigidity and assumed they were better than others, ‘ Francis warned.

Some of Francis’ critics themselves were present in the audience along with his supporters. Returning to the annual Christmas rite is Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom Francis fired in 2020 and disenfranchised after the pope accused him of financial wrongdoing.

Becciu is currently on trial along with nine others at the Vatican criminal court and denies wrongdoing. Pope Francis recently allowed him to continue participating in Vatican ceremonies, a sign the pope thinks he may have fired Becciu before the court ruled him guilty or innocent. .


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