Pope Francis on Thursday urged the members of the Roman Curia to “rekindle” the passion for love and to continue the journey of faith and service with humility.
The pontiff said it is not easy to reignite “the embers under the ashes of the Church” but “today we strive to kindle passion in those who have long since lost it”.
He lamented that “60 years after the Second Vatican Council,” there is still division in the Catholic Church between the so-called “progressives” and “conservatives.”
Pope Francis said the contrast doesn’t lie in both ends of the spectrum but rather, “the real difference is between lovers and those who have lost that initial passion.”
“That is the difference. Only those who love fare forward,” he said.
He emphasized the importance of attentive listening by urging Curia members to emulate the Virgin Mary’s open-hearted reception of the angel’s message.
“More important than any precept is our need to enter into a relationship with God by accepting the gift of the love that he comes to bring us,” he said.
The Pope advocated for a humble posture of listening that extends beyond the exchange of information.
Warning against the peril of becoming “hungry wolves” consuming words without genuine understanding, Pope Francis stressed that “really listening to another person requires an interior quiet and making room for silence between what we hear and what we say.”
The pontiff also stressed the necessity of discerning God’s will. “Discernment is a burst of love that distinguishes between what is good and what is better,” he said, warning against the rigid application of rules without a profound understanding of God’s plan.
“Discernment ought to help us, even in the work of the Curia, to be docile to the Holy Spirit, to choose procedures and make decisions based not on worldly criteria or simply by applying rules, but in accordance with the Gospel,” he said.
Pope Francis encouraged the Curia to embrace the joy of the Gospel, embark on a journey toward an encounter with the Lord, and avoid the pitfalls of fear, rigidity, and monotony.
He underscored the need to steer clear of bureaucracy and mediocrity, he called for a perpetual search for truth and an openness to growth.
“In our service here in the Curia too, it is crucial to keep moving forward, to keep searching and growing in our understanding of the truth, overcoming the temptation to stand still and never leave the ‘labyrinth’ of our fears,” the Pope said.
At the end of his annual Christmas message, Pope Francis reminded the Roman Curia to “never lose our sense of humor!”