Pope calls for humility in a new, zinger-filled Christmas speech

ROME (AP), -- Pope Francis asked Vatican cardinals and bishops to be humble this Christmas season. He said that their pride, self-interest, and the "glitter in our armor" were perverting their spiritual lives, and corrupting the church’s mission.

Pope calls for humility in a new, zinger-filled Christmas speech

Francis, as he did in the past with his Christmas address, took Vatican officials to task for perceived moral and personal failures. He denounced in particular pride-filled clerics that "rigidly", hide behind Catholic Church traditions instead of seeking out the most needy with humility.

Like in the past cardinals and bishops sat in stoneface as Francis lectured them in the Hall of Blessings. It was also decorated with poinsettias and Christmas trees.

Francis said to them, "The humble are those who are not only concerned with the past, but also the future. They know how to look forward, to spread their branches and remember the past with gratitude." The proud, on other hand, just repeat and grow rigid, fearful of new things because they can't control what they know.

The pontiff stated that proud people who are too inward-looking are obsessed with their own interests.

"As a result, they don't learn from their mistakes nor are they open to forgiveness. This is a terrible corruption disguised as a benefit. He said that we must avoid it."

Francis, who was elected pope in 2013, has used his Christmas address as a platform to criticize the Curia, the Holy See's bureaucracy, and denounce the "spiritual dementia" of some members and the resistance he encountered in his attempts to reform the institution and revive the Catholic Church.

These reforms were accelerated this year and the Catholic hierarchy was the most affected. Francis ordered a 10% cut in cardinal pay, imposed a 40 euro ($45) gift limit for Holy See personnel, and passed a law that allowed cardinals or bishops to be criminally tried by the Vatican's tribunal.

Francis also added Christmas greetings to the mix by publicly brow-beating Vatican clerics. These clerics are normally treated with respect by their subordinates and the general public.

Francis advised them to not hide behind the "armors" of their titles, and to realize that they were, like Naaman in the Bible, lepers who needed healing.

He said, "The Naaman story reminds us that Christmas comes when we need to find the courage and to let go of the trappings and social recognition of our roles and to adopt the humility of Naaman."

Francis reiterated his call to tradition-minded clergymen to give up living in the past. He said that their obsessive focus on old liturgy and doctrine was a corrupting form of spiritual worldliness.

He said, "Seeking these kinds of reassurances is the most perverse fruit spiritual worldliness. It reveals a loss of faith, hope, and love; it leads you to an inability of discern the truth of matters."

Francis took the biggest step yet in reining in the traditionalist wing by imposing restrictions on the celebration of the Latin Mass, which Pope Benedict XVI had lifted in 2007.

Last weekend, he imposed more restrictions on the Church by imposing new rules that prohibit even the publication in parish bulletins of Tridentine Mass times.

Francis stated that the proud, who are stuck in the past, are "enclosed" in their world and have no roots or branches. They also suffer from the bitter taste of melancholy, which weighs down their hearts like the most precious of devil's potions.

"All of us have a responsibility to be humble, as we are all called to remember and give life. Our roots and branches are our best friends. He warned us that without these two essentials, we will become sick and be destined to die."

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