Vatican bureaucracy & resistance to reforms ‘inspired by devil’ – Pope Francis

Pope Francis speaks during the traditional greetings to the Roman Curia in the Sala Clementina (Clementine Hall) of the Apostolic Palace, at the Vatican, December 22, 2016. © Gregorio Borgia – 23/12/16

In his annual Christmas speech, Pope Francis slammed Vatican officials for pushing back against reforms that the pontiff has been pushing forward since 2013, saying that those taking part in “malicious resistance” have been inspired by the devil.

“The absence of reaction is a sign of death! Consequently, the good cases of resistance – and even those not quite so good – are necessary and merit being listened to, welcomed and their expression encouraged,” Pope Francis said Thursday, addressing the Roman Curia.

“There are also cases of malicious resistance, which spring up in misguided minds and come to the fore when the devil inspires ill intentions (often cloaked in sheep’s clothing),” the pontiff added.

“The reform does not have an aesthetical end to make the Curia more beautiful; it cannot be understood as a sort of face-lift or applying makeup to beautify the elderly curial body, nor plastic surgery to remove wrinkles,” he continued.

This is the third year in a row that Pope Francis has blasted the Vatican bureaucracy he aims to reform and reorganize. He warned that the reforms he plans to undertake will be far-reaching and at the same time will require those who run the Curia to change as well.

The Vatican administration has met the pontiff’s initiatives with resistance. Although Francis said he gladly accepts criticism, he spoke against destructive opposition “born of fearful or hardened hearts.”

“This last type of resistance is hidden behind words of justification and often accusations, by people taking refuge in tradition, in appearances, in formalities,” he said.

Reforms are necessary for the Church to better fit into today’s world, the pope noted, adding that he would like to see more diversity and lay Catholics, especially women, in decision-making.

The Pope came up with 12 criteria aimed at inspiring change since a reform is a “process of growth and above all, conversion.” Among other things Francis spoke of professionalism, noting that “every office must adopt a policy of personal formation to avoid the “rust” and “routine” as well as put end to the practice of “promoveatur ut amoveatur (removal by promotion).

“This is a cancer!” the pope exclaimed, according to Catholic News Service.

This is not the first time the pontiff has employed medical metaphors. In 2015 he astounded the Curia with a list of 15 “spiritual ailments” that its members were suffering from.

In November four conservative officials made an attempt to challenge Pope Francis’ teachings, accused him of spreading confusion and asked for clarification on a number of moral issues in a major document. However, there has been no direct reply to the challenge.

The alleged corruption, leaks and intrigues inside the Curia are named among the reasons that led Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI to become the first pope in six centuries to resign.

The current Argentina-born pope has managed to close some of the Curia’s inefficient departments and merged others. He is also standing for making the Vatican’s financial situation more transparent to society.

The annual papal Christmas greeting speech lasted some 45 minutes and took place at the Clementina Hall in Vatican City.