Pope Francis :- 15 Point Examination of Conscience ( 2014 )

Preface

Link

Six years ago, on December 22nd, 2014, Pope Francis in a hard hitting talk on the eve of Christmas, called on all the members of the Roman Curia to examine their consciences on 15 possible “diseases” (“illnesses”) that they may have contracted during their lives in the service of the church.

Addressing the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, clergy, religious and laity who are his close collaborators on December 22nd, 2014, the Jesuit pope urged them to acknowledge any sin they may have committed “in thoughts, words, acts or omissions” in this catalog of 15 “diseases,” and then turn to God and ask his pardon and forgiveness so as to be able to start anew in his service.

 

Portrait

 

References

  1. Pope Francis Gives the Roman Curia a 15 Point Examination of Conscience
    • America, The Jesuit Review
      • Authored:- Gerard O’Connell
        Date Published:- December 22, 2014
        Link

Diseases

Outline

  1. The disease of feeling oneself ‘immortal,’ ‘immune’ or even ‘indispensable,’ ignoring the necessary and habitual controls
  2. The disease of ‘marthalism’ (Martha), of excessive doing (activity)
  3. The disease of mental and spiritual ‘petrification’
  4. The disease of excessive planning and functionalism
  5. The disease of bad coordination
  6. The disease of spiritual Alzheimer’s
  7. The disease of rivalry and vainglory
  8.  The disease of existential schizophrenia
  9. The disease of backbiting, murmuring, and gossip
  10. The disease of deifying the chiefs
  11. The disease of indifference to others
  12. The disease of funeral faces
  13. The disease of accumulating
  14. The disease of closed circles
  15. The disease of worldly gain, of exhibitionism

 

Body

1) The disease of feeling oneself ‘immortal,’ ‘immune’ or even ‘indispensable,’ ignoring the necessary and habitual controls

He said, “a Curia that is not ‘self-critical,’ that does not update itself, that does not seek to improve itself, is a sick body.” He described it as “the disease of the foolish rich man in the Gospel who thought that he could live forever (Luke 12, 13-21), and of those who transform themselves into ‘owners’ (‘proprietors’) and feel themselves superior to all and not at the service of all.”

This disease, he said, “often derives from the pathology of power, of the ‘complex of the Elect,” of the narcissism that passionately guards one’s own image and does not see the image of God impressed on the face of the others, especially of the weakest and most needy.”

The “antidote to this epidemic is the grace to feel ourselves as sinners and to say with one’s whole heart, ‘We are useless servants. We have done only what we had to do’” (Luke 17, 10).

2) The disease of ‘marthalism’ (Martha), of excessive doing (activity)

Francis described this as the disease of “those that emerge themselves in work, ignoring, inevitably, ‘the better part’: the sitting at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10, 38-42).” For this reason, he said, Jesus called his disciples ‘to rest a little’ (Mark 6.31) because “to overlook the needed rest brings stress and agitation. The time for rest, for the one who has completed his mission, is necessary, a duty, and should be lived seriously.

 

3) The disease of mental and spiritual ‘petrification’

Pope Francis sees this disease in “those who possess a heart of stone and a ‘hard shoulder’ (Acts 7, 51-60)” and in “those who, on the road, lose inner serenity, vivacity, and audacity and hide themselves under the files (dossiers) becoming ‘machines of paperwork,’ and not ‘men of God.’

He said “It is dangerous to lose the human sensitivity that is necessary to make us cry with those that cry and rejoice with those that rejoice! It is the disease of those that lost ‘the sentiments of Jesus’ (Philippians 2, 5-11)” But to be Christian, he said, means “to have the same sentiments that were in Christ Jesus, sentiments of humility and giving, of detachment and generosity.”

4) The disease of excessive planning and functionalism

Pope Francis said this disease is seen “when the apostle believes that by making a perfect plan things will progress effectively” he becomes “an accountant or commercialist.” Certainly, “it is necessary to prepare everything well but without ever falling into the temptation of wishing to close and pilot the freedom of the Holy Spirit that always remains greater and more generous than any human planning.” He said one falls into this disease because “it is always easier and more comfortable to settle in one’s own static and unchanged positions” but “the Church shows itself faithful to the Holy Spirit in the measure in which it does not have the pretense to regulate and to domesticate the Spirit (who) is freshness, fantasy, newness.”

5) The disease of bad coordination

Pope Francis said the disease is evident “when the members lose communion among themselves and the body loses its functional harmony and its temperance becoming an orchestra that produces noise because its members do not collaborate and do not live the spirit of communion and of the team.

When the foot says to the arm, “I do not need you,” or the hand says to the head, “I command,” thus causing unease and scandal.”

6) The disease of spiritual Alzheimer’s

Francis said this disease comes when one forgets “the history of Salvation” and one’s personal history with the Lord, one’s “first love.” Here “one is dealing with a progressive decline of the spiritual faculties ” over time “ causes grave handicaps to the person, making him become incapable of doing any activity autonomously, living a state of absolute dependence on his often imaginary points of view.”

He said, “We see it in those who have lost the memory of their encounter with the Lord…in those who depend completely on their ‘present,’ on their passions, capriciousness, manias; on those that construct around themselves walls and habits, becoming ever more slaves of idols that they have sculpted with their own hands.”

7) The disease of rivalry and vainglory

Francis sees this disease “when the appearance, the colors of the clothes and the insignia of honors become the primary object of life, forgetting the words of St. Paul, “do not anything for rivalry or vainglory, but each one of you, with all humility, consider the others as superior to oneself. Each one seeks not his own interest but that of the others.” He said this is the disease that brings us “to be false men and women and to live a false ‘mysticism’ and a false ‘quietism.’

8) The disease of existential schizophrenia

Pope Francis calls this “the disease of those that live a double life, the fruit of hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and of the progressive spiritual emptiness that degrees or academic titles cannot fill.” He said it’s a disease “that often hits those who abandon the pastoral service, and limit themselves to bureaucratic doings, thus losing the contact with reality, with concrete people. They create in this way a parallel world, where they put aside all that they have severely taught to other and begin to live a hidden and often dissolute life.” Here, he said, “Conversion is very urgent and indispensable.”

9) The disease of backbiting, murmuring, and gossip

Pope Francis admits he has spoken many times about this disease “but never enough.” He described it as “a grave disease that begins simply, perhaps by just making a couple of gossips, but then it takes charge of the person making him become a ‘sower of lies’ (like Satan), and in many cases ‘cold blooded murder’ of the fame of their colleagues and fellow brothers.” He called it “the disease of vile persons that not having the courage to speak directly (to the face) speak behind the back.”

He told the Roman Curia, “Let us guard ourselves against the terrorism of gossip!

 

10) The disease of deifying the chiefs

Pope Francis called this “the disease of those who court their Superiors, hoping to obtain their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and of opportunism, they honor persons and not God. They are persons who live their service only thinking of what they can obtain and not what they can give.”

He described them as mischievous (‘meschine’), unhappy persons and inspired only by their own fatal egoism. But he added, “this disease can also strike the Superiors when they only court some collaborators so as to obtain their submission, loyalty and psychological dependence” and “the final result is a true complicity.”

11) The disease of indifference to others

Pope Francis said one has this disease “when each one thinks only of himself and loses sincerity and the warmth of human relations” or “when the most expert one does not put his knowledge at the service of the less expert colleagues,” and “when one lives with the knowledge of something and keeps it for himself instead of positively sharing it with the others.” Those have this disease too “when out of jealousy or miserliness (‘scaltrezza’) one finds joy in seeing the other fall, instead of helping him to get up and encourage him.”

12) The disease of funeral faces

Pope Francis said this is the disease of “the brusque persons (‘burbure e arcigne’), who hold that to be serious one has to paint one’s face with melancholy, severity and treat others – especially those considered inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance.” In reality, he said, “‘the theatrical severity’ and ‘the sterile pessimism’ are often symptoms of fear and of insecurity of self.”

The apostle, on the other hand, “must strive to make himself a courteous, serene, enthusiastic and happy person that transmits joy where he is. A heart full of God is a happy heart that irradiates and makes contagious with joy all those that are around him.”

13) The disease of accumulating

Pope Francis said we see this “when the apostle seeks to fill the existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material things, not out of necessity, but only to feel secure.” He reminded everybody that “‘the (burial) shroud has no pockets’ and all our earthly treasures – even if they are gifts – can never fill that emptiness.” He said the Lord tells them, “Do you not know that you are unhappy, miserable, poor, blind and naked…. Be zealous therefore and be converted.

14) The disease of closed circles

Francis said this disease is found “where the belonging to a small group becomes stronger than that to the Body and, in some situations, to Christ himself.

It always begins with good intentions but with the passing of time “it enslaves the members becoming ‘a cancer’ that threatens the harmony of the Body and causes much evil—scandals—especially to our smaller brothers. The self-destruction or ‘the friendly-fire’ of the fellow militants is the most insidious danger. It’s the evil that strikes from within and as Christ says ‘every kingdom divided in itself falls in ruins.’

 

15) The disease of worldly gain, of exhibitionism

Francis sees this disease “when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power in merchandise to obtain worldly gain or more powers. It’s the disease of persons that insatiably seek to multiply powers and for this purpose are capable of calumny, defamation, and discrediting the others, even on newspapers and reviews.  Naturally to exhibit themselves and to show themselves more capable than others.

He said this disease “does much evil to the body because it brings persons to justify whatever means so as to reach that goal, often in the name of justice and transparency!

Reflection

Francis sees this disease “when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power in merchandise to obtain worldly gain or more powers. It’s the disease of persons that insatiably seek to multiply powers and for this purpose are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting the others, even on newspapers and reviews. Naturally to exhibit themselves and to show themselves more capable than others.” He said this disease “does much evil to the body because it brings persons to justify whatever means so as to reach that goal, often in the name of justice and transparency!

Pope Francis went onto say that “these diseases and these temptations are naturally a danger for every Christian, and for every curia, community, congregation, parish, ecclesial movement and so on, and they can strike both at the individual and the community level.

He said “It is necessary to clarify that it is only the Holy Spirit – the soul of the Mystical Body of Christ” that “can heal every infirmity” and “sustain every sincere effort at purification and every good wish of conversion.” It is the Holy Spirit “that enables us to understand that every member participates in the sanctification of the body and in its weakening,” and “the promoter of harmony,” he said.

He told his curial audience that “healing is also the fruit of awareness of the disease and of the personal and communitarian decision to be cured by supporting patiently and with perseverance the cure.

Calling the members of the curia, “dear brothers,” the pope went onto tell them that he had once read that “priests are like airplanes, they make news when they fall, but there are many that fly. Many criticize but few pray for them.”

It’s a nice phrase, but it is also very true, he said, because “it outlines the importance and delicacy of our priestly service and how much evil one priest who ‘falls’ can cause to the whole body of the Church.”

He concluded by encouraging each of them to ask the Blessed Virgin, “the mother of the Son of God and of the Church, to heal the wounds of sin that each one bears in his heart and to sustain the Church and the Curia so that it be healthy and healing, holy and sanctifying, to the glory of her Son and for our salvation and that of the entire world.”

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