Skip to main content

Pope Francis gives Christmas message of service to Vatican staff, priests

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 11:23 AM EST, Sat December 21, 2013
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the Roman Catholic Church's 266th Pope on March 13, 2013. The first pontiff from Latin America was also the first to take the name Francis. It was a sign of maverick moves to come. Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the Roman Catholic Church's 266th Pope on March 13, 2013. The first pontiff from Latin America was also the first to take the name Francis. It was a sign of maverick moves to come.
HIDE CAPTION
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
Pope Francis' first year
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pope Francis urges the Curia to be professional and to serve the rest of the church
  • He also warns against gossip, saying it is harmful to people and the church's work
  • This is Francis' first Christmas message to the Roman Curia
  • Since becoming pope, he has been taking steps to reform the way the Holy See is run

(CNN) -- Pope Francis put the ideals of professionalism, service and holiness to the fore Saturday in his first Christmas message to the Curia, the Roman Catholic Church's governing body.

The Roman Curia, which includes Vatican staff, priests and cardinals, gathered in the ornate Clementine Hall. The pope praised those who have worked in the Vatican for "many years with immense dedication, hidden from the eyes of the world."

The church needs "people who work with competence, precision and self sacrifice in the fulfillment of their daily duties," he said.

Without professionalism, Francis warned, "there is a slow drift downwards towards mediocrity" and "dossiers become full of trite and lifeless information" that fail to inspire.

Pope to priests: Cut the gossip

Without an attitude of service to bishops and churches worldwide, he said, "the structure of the Curia turns into a ponderous, bureaucratic customs house, constantly inspecting and questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and the growth of God's people."

Holiness encompasses an openness to God, prayer, deep humility and fraternal charity in relationships with fellow workers, Francis said.

"It also means apostleship, discreet and faithful pastoral service, zealously carried out in direct contact with God's people. For priests, this is indispensable," he said.

He also urged the Curia to avoid indulging in gossip, saying: "Gossip is harmful to people, our work and our surroundings."

Francis has already taken a number of steps to try to reform the Vatican's administration in the nine months since he was elected to the papacy.

CNN's Vatican reporter John Allen, also a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, said Saturday's speech was brief but set out some core principles.

"He said very clearly he wants a Vatican that is focused on service, rather than power," Allen said.

In July, the pope set up an expert committee to recommend reforms to the economic and administrative structures of the Holy See. He has also ordered more scrutiny of the Vatican bank, which has been plagued by financial scandals for years.

Earlier this month, he announced the creation of a commission to prevent the abuse of minors and to support victims of abuse.

The Catholic Church has faced calls for reform in the wake of scandals involving the sexual abuse of children by priests and allegations of corruption.

Since taking charge, Francis has also shifted the tone of the church toward a focus on service, compassion and helping the poor and addressed controversial issues such as homosexuality and the role of women in the church.

At his final general audience of 2013 in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, the pope spoke about the birth of Jesus and the importance of humility.

"It is an ugly thing," he said, "when you see a Christian who doesn't want to humble himself, who doesn't want to serve, a Christian who struts about everywhere: it's ugly, eh? That is not a Christian: that's a pagan!"

In a measure of the impact he's already had as pontiff, Francis was named as Time magazine's "Person of the Year" this month.

The Vatican welcomed Time's selection, while making it clear the man so widely recognized for his own humility didn't seek the award and didn't want its light to shine on him but on the mission of the church.

Pope Francis calls for big changes in Roman Catholic Church

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
updated 7:32 PM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
updated 2:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
updated 11:03 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
updated 9:54 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT