Leadership is distorted by lust for power, betraying charisma, says Pope
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis congratulated the Catholic lay movements and associations for living the Gospel in their daily lives and for promoting education, social support and evangelization in the peripheries of the world.
They show how “we don’t have to wait for a priest to come, for the priest to evangelize or for a missionary,” he said, applauding how many movements have awakened the understanding that all baptized have the duty to evangelize and to be a missionary church.
However, just like religious orders and congregations around the world, the Pope said, lay movements and associations of the faithful are just as susceptible to abuse and problems, all of which stem from abuse of power.
All associations, not just some or just large ones, need to learn what good governance entails, he added.
The Pope addressed September 16 in the Vatican Synod Hall to those attending – online and on site in Rome – a meeting organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, focusing on the issue of responsible governance in lay movements and associations. Among the participants were “moderators” of associations of lay faithful, movements and new communities.
The Pope told them: “To govern is to serve. The exercise of governance within associations and movements is a subject that is particularly close to my heart, especially given – what I said before – the cases of different types of abuse that have occurred in these situations. , too, and that they still find their roots in the abuse of power.
“This is the cause – the abuse of power,” the Pope said.
The issue of abuse of power and good governance is so close to his heart that the Pope’s already long original speech of four pages has grown to five pages as his improvised remarks expanded on particular points, offered insight. explanations and provided colorful examples.
For example, to hammer home the toxic nature of entrenched leadership that refuses to prepare future leaders to take the reins, the Pope recalled a religious institute whose members surreptitiously called their leader “Odiobilia”, that is, say “hateful,” instead of her real name, “Amabile,” which meant “lovable,” because, he says, “they realized the woman was” Hitler “in a habit.”
There are two obstacles to the call to use leadership as a means of serving others: the desire for power and unfaithfulness to one’s vocation as a Christian, that is, to lead a double life that is no longer. devoted to God, but to other things, which always include money, he said.
There can also be unfaithfulness to the charism – which is a gift of the Holy Spirit – when people present themselves as “the only interpreters of the charism” or “the only heirs” then they do everything to remain in power “for life”. or decide for themselves who their successors are, he said.
The Vatican has often had to intervene over the years, he said, not only to deal with serious scandals, but also in cases of “illness”, when the founding charisma “weakened” and failed. fail to attract new members.
The Pope reminded his audience of a recent set of standards for international Catholic lay movements and associations. They were published by the dicastery in June and entered into force from September. The new standards place term limits on central leadership and require that all members have a voice in choosing their leaders as part of an effort to protect people from possible abuse by leaders of the government. groups.
These standards, which the Pope approved, are intended “for everyone, without exception. There are no those who are better or less great, perfect or not. Each ecclesial entity is called to be converted, to understand and to implement the spirit which animates the regulations given in the decree ”, he declared.
The Pope said the new decree came due to a consistent pattern of recurring situations over the past decades, showing some changes needed to be made.
To illustrate this trend, the Pope underlined the fact that the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life began to study all the religious congregations and associations founded after Vatican Council II.
“It’s curious, very curious”, he said, how they discovered that a very large number of these institutes “found themselves in very difficult situations – they underwent an apostolic visitation, they finished in depraved sins ”, placed under outside direction and so on.
The study shows that this has not only happened with the big groups, but also with the small institutes, he said, and that the scandals are not only the best known, but include things that the groups “made to feel like a separate church, they seem to be saviors!”
He said he knew of three religious institutes in his native Argentina, which have already been suppressed after finding themselves in “dirty” or dishonest situations.
“Weren’t they salvation? They looked like it. But there is always this common thread of disciplinary rigidity. This is important ”and this is what has come out of the review of the last decades, which has clearly highlighted the need for the kind of changes in the new decrees for lay groups, he said.
The Pope ended his speech by thanking them for listening and urging them to be open and honest when they meet.
“Ask for things you want to ask, clarify the situation. This is the meeting to do it, ”he said. “And don’t forget to pray for me, because I need it. It is not easy to be a pope, but God helps, he always helps.
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