Pope warns Vatican staff an ‘elegant demon’ lurks among them

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis warned Vatican bureaucrats on Thursday to beware the satan that lurks amongst them, saying it’s an “elegant demon” that works in individuals who have a inflexible, holier-than-thou way of life the Catholic religion.

Francis used his annual Christmas greeting to the Roman Curia to once more put the cardinals, bishops and monks who work within the Holy See on discover that they’re in no way past reproach and are, in truth, notably weak to evil.

Francis instructed them that by dwelling within the coronary heart of the Catholic Church, “we may simply fall into the temptation of considering we’re secure, higher than others, not in want of conversion.”

“But we’re in better hazard than all others, as a result of we’re beset by the ‘elegant demon,’ who doesn’t make a loud entrance, however comes with flowers in his hand,” Francis instructed the churchmen within the Corridor of Blessings of the Apostolic Palace.

Francis has lengthy used his Christmas deal with for an annual dressing down of Vatican bureaucrats, taking them by a typical Jesuit-style “examination of conscience” to assist them repent within the run-up to Christmas.

His most blistering critique got here in 2014, when he listed the “15 illnesses of the Curia” that some suffered, together with the “terrorism of gossip,” ″non secular Alzheimer’s” and of dwelling “hypocritical” double lives. The next 12 months, Francis supplied an antidote to the sins by itemizing the “catalog of virtues” he hoped they’d as a substitute observe, together with honesty, humility and sobriety.

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This 12 months was related in tone, however Francis appeared to additionally wish to take broader purpose at arch-conservatives and traditionalists who’ve change into the pope’s greatest critics. Francis blasted their way of life the religion, insisting that being Catholic does not imply following a never-changing set of dicta however is relatively a “technique of understanding Christ’s message that by no means ends, however continually challenges us.”

“True heresy consists not solely in preaching one other gospel, as Saint Paul instructed us, but additionally in ceasing to translate its message into right this moment’s languages and methods of considering,” Francis mentioned.

Traditionalist Catholics have denounced Francis’ emphasis on mercy and openness to doctrinal wiggle room on points equivalent to sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. Some have even gone as far as to accuse him of heresy for a few of his gestures and preaching, together with permitting “pagan” statues within the Vatican.

Francis devoted the majority of his speech this 12 months to the have to be vigilant in regards to the work of the satan, choosing up a theme he not too long ago mentioned throughout his weekly catechism classes with most people.

He instructed the Vatican bureaucrats it’s not sufficient to merely condemn evil or root it out, because it usually comes again in several guises, stronger than earlier than. Francis used the time period “we” repeatedly, suggesting he consists of himself amongst these within the Vatican who should stay conscious of the satan of their midst.

“Earlier than, it appeared tough and violent, now it reveals up as elegant and refined,” he warned. “We have to understand that and as soon as once more to unmask it. That’s how these ‘elegant demons’ are: they enter easily, with out our even being aware of them,” he mentioned.

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Francis instructed the story of a seventeenth century convent the place the superior, Mom Angelica, had charismatically reformed herself and her monastery after evil crept in, however the satan got here again within the type of a inflexible religion.

“They’d solid out the demon, however he had returned seven instances stronger, and underneath the guise of austerity and rigor, he had launched rigidity and the presumption that they have been higher than others,” Francis warned.

A few of Francis’ critics themselves have been within the viewers alongside along with his supporters. Returning to the annual Christmas ceremony was Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom Francis fired in 2020 and stripped of his rights as a cardinal after the pope accused him of economic misconduct.

Becciu is at present on trial, together with 9 different folks, within the Vatican legal court docket and denies wrongdoing. Francis not too long ago allowed him to renew collaborating in Vatican ceremonies, an indication the pope thinks he maybe jumped the gun in sanctioning Becciu earlier than a court docket dominated on his guilt or innocence.