Francis told them 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.”
“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 Palce.
Francis has long used his Christmas address for an annual dressing down of Vatican bureaucrats, taking them through a typical Jesuit-style “examination of conscience” to help them repent in the run-up to Christmas.
This year was no different, but Francis appeared to also want to take broader aim at arch-conservatives and traditionalists who have become the pope’s biggest critics. Francis blasted their way of living the faith, insisting that being Catholic doesn’t mean following a never-changing set of dictums but is rather a “process of understanding Christ’s message that never ends, but constantly challenges us.”
“True heresy consists not only in preaching another gospel, as Saint Paul told us, but also in ceasing to translate its message into today’s languages and ways of thinking,” Francis said.
The pope’s conservative critics have accused Francis of heresy for some of his gestures and preaching, including opening the door to letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics access the sacraments.