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Pope rips ‘traitors’ in Christmas message to Roman Curia

December 21, 2017

Pope Francis lashed out at Vatican officials who resist his reform programs on December 21, in his Christmas message to the Roman Curia.

The annual papal address to the Curia, officially listed as an exchange of Christmas greetings, has traditionally been an opportunity for the Pontiff to review the past year’s work and outline top priorities for the future. In 2014, Pope Francis broke from that pattern by delivering a scalding critique of the Roman Curia, listing the “spiritual diseases” that beset the Vatican. Last year, at the same December event, he blasted “malicious” opposition to his plans for reform.

Pope Francis returned to that topic in this year’s address, berating the “traitors” within the Roman Curia and the “unbalanced and debased mindset of plots and small cliques.” He went on to complain that some Vatican officials, “when they are quietly sidelined, wrongly declare themselves martyrs of the system” rather than acknowledging their own failures.

The Pope did not name any past or present officials in his criticism. But three prominent Vatican officials who have been removed in recent months have made public protests about the way they were dismissed. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said that he cannot accept the abrupt way in which his service was terminated. And both Libero Milone and Guilio Mattietti—who were fired from posts as the Vatican’s former auditor general and the deputy director of the Vatican bank, respectively—have charged that they were removed without reason.

Pope Francis opened his discussion of resistance to his plans for reform by citing the “amusing” words of a 19th-century Belgian prelate, Archbishop Xavier de Mérode, who said that “reforming Rome is like cleaning the Sphinx of Egypt with a toothbrush.” John Allen of the Crux news site observed that the line did not draw laughter from the assembled Vatican officials.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Gil125 - Dec. 22, 2017 3:59 PM ET USA

    "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

  • Posted by: rpp - Dec. 22, 2017 11:04 AM ET USA

    There are indeed traitors in the Vatican. And while many are in the Curia, one is ostensibly the leader of the Curia.

  • Posted by: feedback - Dec. 22, 2017 10:20 AM ET USA

    Let this be a valuable lesson for our Cardinals for the next conclave.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Dec. 21, 2017 6:24 PM ET USA

    I find it difficult to see our Pontiff as anything but mean-spirited in his treatment of his brother bishops. I'm truly sad to see him shaking out his perceived dusty garments in public.