Green Room

Pope Francis: “Careerists and social climbers … are doing great harm to the Church”

posted at 11:01 am on May 8, 2013 by

After my sojourn in Vatican City for the papal conclave, I subscribed to the Vatican’s wire service so that I can keep a closer watch on news about Pope Francis and his work.  Much of it is interesting to me but in a non-news manner, as the Pope sets about to accomplish in his own way the commission given to St. Francis of Assisi — “rebuild my church.”  An item today is more provocative, and worth sharing:

Vatican City, 8 May 2013 (VIS) – “The men and women of the Church who are careerists and social climbers, who ‘use’ people, the Church, their brothers and sisters—whom they should be serving—as a springboard for their own personal interests and ambitions … are doing great harm to the Church.” This is what Pope Francis asserted in his address to the participants in the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) whom he received in audience this morning.

The pontiff spoke to the sisters of obedience, poverty, and chastity: “Obedience as listening to God’s will, in the interior motion of the Holy Spirit authenticated by the Church, accepting that obedience also passes through human mediations. … Poverty, which teaches solidarity, sharing, and charity and which is also expressed in a soberness and joy of the essential, to put us on guard against the material idols that obscure the true meaning of life. Poverty, which is learned with the humble, the poor, the sick, and all those who are at the existential margins of life. Theoretical poverty doesn’t do anything. Poverty is learned by touching the flesh of the poor Christ in the humble, the poor, the sick, and in children.”

“And then chastity, as a precious charism, that enlarges the freedom of your gift to God and others with Christ’s tenderness, mercy, and closeness. Chastity for the Kingdom of Heaven shows how affection has its place in mature freedom and becomes a sign of the future world, to make God’s primacy shine forever. But, please, [make it] a ‘fertile’ chastity, which generates spiritual children in the Church. The consecrated are mothers: they must be mothers and not ‘spinsters’! Forgive me if I talk like this but this maternity of consecrated life, this fruitfulness is important! May this joy of spiritual fruitfulness animate your existence. Be mothers, like the images of the Mother Mary and the Mother Church. You cannot understand Mary without her motherhood; you cannot understand the Church without her motherhood, and you are icons of Mary and of the Church.”

Continuing, Pope Francis spoke to the superiors about service. “We must never forget that true power, at whatever level, is service, which has its bright summit upon the Cross. … ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them … But it shall not be so among you.’—This is precisely the motto of your assembly, isn’t it? It shall not be so among you.—’Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave’.”

“Your vocation is a fundamental charism for the Church’s journey and it isn’t possible that a consecrated woman or man might ‘feel’ themselves not to be with the Church. A ‘feeling’ with the Church that has generated us in Baptism; a ‘feeling’ with the Church that finds its filial expression in fidelity to the Magisterium, in communion with the Bishops and the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, a visible sign of that unity,” the pontiff added, citing Paul VI: “It is an absurd dichotomy to think of living with Jesus but without the Church, of following Jesus outside of the Church, of loving Jesus without loving the Church. Feel the responsibility that you have of caring for the formation of your Institutes in sound Church doctrine, in love of the Church, and in an ecclesial spirit.”

“The centrality of Christ and his Gospel, authority as a service of love, and ‘feeling’ in and with the Mother Church: [these are] three suggestions that I wish to leave you, to which I again add my gratitude for your work, which is not always easy. What would the Church be without you? She would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness! A Mother’s intuition.”

This comes shortly after Pope Francis’ decision to continue the discipline of Benedict XVI for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who stand accused of straying from Catholic doctrine in their work in the US.

Side note: Most of the media has translated “spinsters” to “old maids.” I don’t know how Pope Francis put it in Italian, and my Italian is poor enough that I wouldn’t get the nuance of either expression anyway.  VIS has it as “spinsters,” but I don’t think there’s a lot of difference in either definition or tone to make this more than just an interesting and amusing distinction.

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Pope Francis: “Careerists and social climbers … are doing great harm to the Church”

Yes, I recommend sticking with that time-tested recruiting tool: “Obedience, poverty, and chastity.”

That has women wanting to join the sisterhood in droves
. Maybe they should add: “If your lucky, you might be allowed to make the pope a sammich!”

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Yes, I recommend sticking with that time-tested recruiting tool: “Obedience, poverty, and chastity.”

That has women wanting to join the sisterhood in droves. Maybe they should add: “If your lucky, you might be allowed to make the pope a sammich!”

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Religion is not in the business of being popular. If people are less interested now in service or religious vows, then so be it. The solution is to change minds, not change religion.

In any event, the declines of nuns in the U.S. is a direct result of the strife and division caused by the radicalization of many religious orders that occurred in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. Women with a deep devotion to God have been turned off by orders that are more devoted to worldly concerns (“radical feminism” in the words of the Vatican) than spiritual needs.

Nessuno on May 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

That has women wanting to join the sisterhood in droves. Maybe they should add: “If your lucky, you might be allowed to make the pope a sammich!”
pain train on May 8, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Why yes, yes it does, actually.

Summary: Religious orders which do not wear habits and are known for an attitude of “The pope had better get with it; IIIIII have a master’s degree and I’m farrrr too sophisticated and important for mere prayer and humble service” are dying. The ones who wear habits and are known for being faithful to the teachings of the Church are flourishing with many young people entering.

Sisters of Life
Sisters of Charity
Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia (“Nashville Dominicans”)

to name just three very famous examples, in the US alone.

inviolet on May 8, 2013 at 12:04 PM

* s/b Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order)

inviolet on May 8, 2013 at 12:06 PM

….and no mention yet of Christians being slaughtered in the Islamic world?

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/05/07/mass-exodus-christians-from-muslim-world/#ixzz2SdJbb9Fg

WC on May 8, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Religion is not in the business of being popular. If people are less interested now in service or religious vows, then so be it. The solution is to change minds, not change religion.

In any event, the declines of nuns in the U.S. is a direct result of the strife and division caused by the radicalization of many religious orders that occurred in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. Women with a deep devotion to God have been turned off by orders that are more devoted to worldly concerns (“radical feminism” in the words of the Vatican) than spiritual needs.

Nessuno on May 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

I think a lot of women are turned off by the Church’s (mostly) male hierarchy; they are welcome to teach the church’s children or care for the sick but can they participate in the selection of a pope? No.

I think that’s where the “obedience” aspect rubs them the wrong way, at least to several of the Catholic women I’ve spoken to.

The bottom line is that the Catholic church is loosing members in droves and they may have to revisit some of their policies in order to stop the bleeding.

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

The LCWR situation amuses me to no end. Apparently, the nuns and their fellow travellers on the Left thought that Francis was going to give them gold stars and cookies because he is a big fan of the preferential option for the poor. They didn’t actually listen to anything he has said. Of course, someone who thinks that priests should “smell like their sheep” isn’t going to be impressed with Sister Campbell and friends. I don’t think that the Pope’s idea of social justice involves prime time speaking slots at the DNC and appearances on the Colbert Report as well as total disregard for portions of Catholic doctrine.

It also provides some hints that Bergoglio isn’t someone who you want to mess with. There is alot of steeliness behind the happy, glad-handing public persona.

Illinidiva on May 8, 2013 at 2:25 PM

“Careerists and social climbers … are doing great harm to the Church”

That problem is not unique to the Catholic Church.
Those types of people do great harm to any organization they’re in.

dentarthurdent on May 8, 2013 at 2:30 PM

I think a lot of women are turned off by the Church’s (mostly) male hierarchy; they are welcome to teach the church’s children or care for the sick but can they participate in the selection of a pope? No.

I think that’s where the “obedience” aspect rubs them the wrong way, at least to several of the Catholic women I’ve spoken to.

The bottom line is that the Catholic church is loosing members in droves and they may have to revisit some of their policies in order to stop the bleeding.

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Yet we are the same religion that is frequently accused of having too much devotion to Mary. Go figure.

Regardless, though, even if what you say about people being “driven off in droves” is true, no religion can or should change its doctrines in order to be popular. The male priesthood is not just a matter of discipline, like Catholic not eating meat on Fridays, that can be changed at will. It is a dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church. You don’t have to believe it, just as you don’t have to be Catholic. But don’t expect the Church to change something it has defined as a core belief just because modern society says it should.

Having said all that, I think there is some legitimacy to the fact that the Church of late has not done a good job reaching out to people and drawing them into the flock. And I think Pope Francis is aware of many of those challenges and is addressing them. I’m encouraged by what he’s done so far, and I look for more to come. But don’t expect that to come in the form of changing Church doctrine. That’s not what religion is all about.

Shump on May 8, 2013 at 2:31 PM

“The men and women of the Church who are careerists and social climbers, who ‘use’ people, the Church, their brothers and sisters—whom they should be serving—as a springboard for their own personal interests and ambitions … are doing great harm to the Church.”

I’m not a Catholic, but those are some mighty tough words from a Pope as far as I can tell. Well warranted and necessary but surprisingy blunt. I hope he has a good food taster. More power to him.

jnelchef on May 8, 2013 at 2:40 PM

I think a lot of women are turned off by the Church’s (mostly) male hierarchy; they are welcome to teach the church’s children or care for the sick but can they participate in the selection of a pope? No.

I think that’s where the “obedience” aspect rubs them the wrong way, at least to several of the Catholic women I’ve spoken to.

The bottom line is that the Catholic church is loosing members in droves and they may have to revisit some of their policies in order to stop the bleeding.

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

The Catholic Church is losing members in droves because of “theological narcissism.” Liberal and conservative Catholics have spent the last fifty years taking shots at each other. Conservative Catholics are totally convinced that if we only went back to saying the Mass in Latin, then everyone would be jumping to return to Mass weekly. More liberal Catholics think that if the Church just ordained women as priests and dropped its opposition to abortion, then everyone would return to the Church.

Bergoglio’s main argument is that they are both wrong. He makes both sides very uncomfortable because he rejects their orthodoxies. (More traditionalist sites are currently all aflutter about his speech today. But they will freak out again when Easter comes around and he opts for more lady foot washing.) The point Francis is trying to make is that both sides have turned off normal people with their infighting. Instead of searching for lost sheep, they’ve spent decades sniping at each other.

Illinidiva on May 8, 2013 at 2:41 PM

@pain train

Glad inviolet covered the fact that more traditional orders are flourishing while orders more in line with the DNC than the RCC are breaking apart and vanishing.

The vast majority of clergy don’t participate in the selection of the pope, and none of the laity do. Women have a revered place in the church as mothers – only they can give the gift of life. The Pope can’t do that.

More to the point your entire premise turns Catholicism on its head. The world sees the Pope as called to be the greatest power when in Catholicism he is called to be the greatest servant. To treat it as a position sought for power is to ignore the entire point of the papacy.

You are at least correct that the Church needs to revisit her policies, and we should start be going back to proper catechisis, which the leftist elements of the Church have been muddying and distorting going on six decades now. Fixing that damage is going to take a long time.

BKennedy on May 8, 2013 at 2:45 PM

The bottom line is that the Catholic church is loosing members in droves and they may have to revisit some of their policies in order to stop the bleeding.

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

The Catholic church is not losing members “in droves”. In fact, the Catholic church has a better retention rate than any Protestant denomination. Sort of blows your theory out of the water doesn’t it?

I think that’s where the “obedience” aspect rubs them the wrong way, at least to several of the Catholic women I’ve spoken to.

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

You are speaking to a couple of Catholic women, meanwhile I’m working, worshiping, and living with Catholic women and I have a totally different take.

I’m going to go out on a limb and infer that the Catholic women you have spoken to aren’t active Catholics, and they’ve given you a reason excuse for why they have left the church. But from my experience, people are eager to blame others or this or that rule for why they no longer worship, but when it comes right down to it, if the church changed everything based on their fancy, they’d still have some other excuse for not coming back.

And by the way, “obedience”, which you’ve expressed is the source of some of this angst, is not directed only at women. Obedience to the teachings of the Church is central to Catholic identity, male and female alike. It’s a word that expresses the belief that I cannot substitute my whims, preferences, interpretations, and values for those of the Church. It’s a belief that the Holy Spirit works through the Church and that, over time, the teachings and traditions of the Church are far more likely to be correct than my personal preferences.

Nessuno on May 8, 2013 at 2:58 PM

More to the point your entire premise turns Catholicism on its head. The world sees the Pope as called to be the greatest power when in Catholicism he is called to be the greatest servant. To treat it as a position sought for power is to ignore the entire point of the papacy.

Unfortunately, there have been a few popes, especially during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, who have had the former idea about the papacy rather than the latter idea. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that this is how the position is perceived.

Illinidiva on May 8, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Honestly… who cares? Most catholics in the US don’t care what the Pope says or the vatican does… who looks to them for anything.

I don’t say this to be cruel or to imply any antipathy towards the organization. I neither like nor dislike the Vatican. They’re a quaint organization that we humor on occasion. But generally speaking… what do they do that matters to anyone? Really?

What’s this you say… Social climbers in a big multi national institution? SHOCKING. Do those people often do things that run contrary to the interests of the organization… again… shocking.

This needs to be discussed or understood by anyone else for what reason though?…

I don’t know… maybe I’m sort of bitching at whomever posted this on Hotair… with everything else going on… who cares? Really. If I were an Italian Catholic living in Rome this still wouldn’t rate more then a .001 on the give-o-f’ meter.

Karmashock on May 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Karmashock on May 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM

You really don’t care that the pope basically told Sister Campbell and company that they can no longer act as a wing of Organizing for America? Because that is who we are talking about. It isn’t a major story which is why it is posted in the Green Room, but it is quite amusing.

Illinidiva on May 8, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Karmashock on May 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM

I care.

Thanks, Ed, for bringing this to my attention. I love Pope Francis more with every passing day. I still miss beloved BXVI, (and always will) but I’m finally coming to grips with his decision and am really warming to Pope Francis. God bless him and keep him safe and strong.

pannw on May 8, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Unfortunately, there have been a few popes, especially during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, who have had the former idea about the papacy rather than the latter idea. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that this is how the position is perceived.

Illinidiva on May 8, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Even if every Pope in history had managed to successfully navigate the geopolitical world to avoid things like that, the secular world would still simultaneously mock him while declaring him a kind of all-powerful regent of rigid absolutism.

Christ himself said “remember that if they hate you, they hated me first.”

BKennedy on May 8, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Even if every Pope in history had managed to successfully navigate the geopolitical world to avoid things like that, the secular world would still simultaneously mock him while declaring him a kind of all-powerful regent of rigid absolutism.

Christ himself said “remember that if they hate you, they hated me first.”

BKennedy on May 8, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Umm.. JPII was considered quite beloved and always garnered quite favorable press. Francis has had quite the honeymoon. Apparently, he is still getting overflow crowds at St. Peter’s for routine appearances despite the fact that people have figured out he is still Catholic (70,000 to 100,000 for his regular Wednesday audience.) So not seeing the mocking there.

Illinidiva on May 8, 2013 at 5:24 PM

The bottom line is that the Catholic church is loosing members in droves and they may have to revisit some of their policies in order to stop the bleeding.

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

The Church is gaining as many or more members as it’s losing. It doesn’t have to change a thing, except maybe be a little more orthodox. Orders that are faithful to the Magisterium are booming, while the “pantsuit nun” orders are dying out. I know a couple of (attractive college educated) women that have joined orders (one is a novice and the other is a postulant), and the order they are members of are growing like crazy.

Ward Cleaver on May 8, 2013 at 5:34 PM

You really don’t care that the pope basically told Sister Campbell and company that they can no longer act as a wing of Organizing for America? Because that is who we are talking about. It isn’t a major story which is why it is posted in the Green Room, but it is quite amusing.

Illinidiva on May 8, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Yes, a sister’s job is not to work in a political organization, it’s to serve God and serve man.

Ward Cleaver on May 8, 2013 at 5:36 PM

The Church is gaining as many or more members as it’s losing. It doesn’t have to change a thing, except maybe be a little more orthodox. Orders that are faithful to the Magisterium are booming, while the “pantsuit nun” orders are dying out. I know a couple of (attractive college educated) women that have joined orders (one is a novice and the other is a postulant), and the order they are members of are growing like crazy.

Ward Cleaver on May 8, 2013 at 5:34 PM

No.. The Church is definitely losing members and has been for years. In South America, many people are converting to Evangelical sects. The old Catholic Church is considered a vestige of colonialism and the old right-wing regimes and upper class elites. It is not very welcoming or accepting of people. One of the things that Bergoglio fought against in Buenos Aires was the fact that priests were actually refusing to baptize the babies of unwed mothers. Could you imagine that happening in the U.S.?

What the Church needs is a bit more of Evangelicalism and a bit less rigid orthodoxy overall. That is what Bergoglio’s whole schtick is about and it has so far proven very popular and effective.

I do agree with you that more traditional religious orders are flourishing. I think that this is because the people drawn to that life are already more conservative Catholics.

Illinidiva on May 8, 2013 at 7:41 PM

The bottom line is that the Catholic church is loosing members in droves and they may have to revisit some of their policies in order to stop the bleeding.

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

If it means that the liberal-Left types of Catholics who are fine with abortion, women priests and all the other pathetic attitudes and causes that are leaving in droves, I’m all for it.

The Catholic Church does not need to revisit anything; it is our duty as Catholics to be obedient to it, not for the Church to bend to our whims.

PatriotGal2257 on May 8, 2013 at 7:58 PM

The bottom line is that the Catholic church is loosing members in droves and they may have to revisit some of their policies in order to stop the bleeding.
pain train on May 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

The Catholic Church does not need to revisit anything; it is our duty as Catholics to be obedient to it, not for the Church to bend to our whims.
PatriotGal2257 on May 8, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Indeed. And in fact, it was after Vatican II – with the embrace of liberalism, “Liberation Theology” and “Social Justice” – that the
‘bleeding’ wound first appeared.

whatcat on May 8, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Indeed. And in fact, it was after Vatican II – with the embrace of liberalism, “Liberation Theology” and “Social Justice” – that the
‘bleeding’ wound first appeared.

whatcat on May 8, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Yes.. It is all Vatican II’s fault. Everyone really enjoyed the staid overly judgmental Church of the 1950s. sarc off//

Illinidiva on May 8, 2013 at 11:58 PM

The bottom line is that the Catholic church is loosing members in droves and they may have to revisit some of their policies in order to stop the bleeding.

pain train on May 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

All I can think of in response is Christ being scourged at the pillar and looking around to see none of his disciples have stayed and then pondering:

“I may have to revisit some of my policies in order to stop the bleeding …”

PackerBronco on May 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM