39 – The court is the plague of the Papacy. The Church is or should go back to being a community of God’s people

Narcissists… without further ado, that is how Francis has labeled several of the former “Heads of the Church” and members of the Roman Curia. We suppose, with all due respect, that after two thousand years of history, the Bishop of Rome does not consider his august person nor that of his immediate collaborators as the only ones free from such a kind description, which at first sight, appears to disdain the work of previous Popes. The fact is that while speaking of the Roman Curia or when meeting with it, Francis never misses an opportunity to point out its defects, as he did in December 2014 (Address to the Roman Curia, Chrismas Greeting) inviting each one of its members to a profound examination of conscience. Conversely, what stands out is the fact that he does not do this with other people and groups, even when they are far from fulfilling the divine precepts, even publically. What, then, is his motivation? A strange dislike for the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy of which he is a part? A hidden desire to change structures which he considers obsolete? Insufficient consideration or knowledge of the primacy of the Church of Rome? We may not affirm any of the above, though we may show a certain perplexity… The Curia, as any other organization constituted by human beings, is evidently subject to errors, defects, and above all, the effects of sin among its members. However, this does not mean that it ceases to play an important role in the Church, among them the “diaconia” of the Petrine ministry.


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[Francis] Do you know what I think about this point? The leaders of the Church have often been narcissistic, flattered and wrongly incited by their courtiers. The court is the plague of the papacy.
[Scalfari] The plague of the papacy, this is exactly what you said. But which court? Are you perhaps alluding to the Curia? I asked.
[Francis] No, at times there are courtiers in the Curia, but the Curia as a whole is something else. It’s what in the army is called the intendancy; it manages the entities that serve the Holy See. However, it has one defect: it is Vatican-centred. It looks after and cares for the Vatican’s interests, which are still to a great extent temporal. This Vatican-centred vision ignores the world around it. I do not share this vision and I will do all I can to change it. The Church is and must become again a community of the People of God and the clergy, parishes, the bishops who are charged with the care of souls, are at the service of the People of God. This is what the Church is. It’s not without reason that the word is different from the Holy See. The latter has its own important role but it stands at the service of the Church. I could not have had full faith in God and in his Son had I not been formed in the Church and also had the good fortune in Argentina to be a member of a community without which I would not have come to know myself and my faith.” (Interview with Eugenio Scalfari – L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n. 41, October 9, 2013)

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