Pope warns Vatican staff an ‘elegant demon’ lurks among them

The Pope told Vatican staff to beware the ‘elegant demon’ that lurks in self-righteous Catholics in his traditional Christmas speech. 

Francis used his annual Christmas greeting to the Roman Curia to again put the cardinals, bishops and priests who work in the Holy See on notice that they are particularly vulnerable to evil. 

Pope Francis has long used the annual speech as a chance to rebuke bureaucrats in an examination of conscience to help them repent before Christmas.  

Francis told attendees that by living in the heart of the Catholic Church, ‘we could easily fall into the temptation of thinking we are safe, better than others, no longer in need of conversion.’

Pope Francis talks with faithful dressed as the Three Wise Men at the end of his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Pope Francis looks at a nativity scene as he leaves after his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican

‘Yet we are in greater danger than all others, because we are beset by the ‘elegant demon’, who does not make a loud entrance, but comes with flowers in his hand,’ Francis told the churchmen in the Hall of Blessings of the Apostolic Palace.

But the speech was relatively gentle compared to previous Jesuit-style examinations.  

Pope Francis’ most blistering critique came in 2014, when he listed the ’15 ailments of the Curia’ that some suffered, including the ‘terrorism of gossip’, ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’ and of living ‘hypocritical’ double lives. 

The following year, Francis offered an antidote to the sins by listing the ‘catalogue of virtues’ he hoped they would instead follow, including honesty, humility and sobriety.

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