By Maike Hickson
In the German-speaking countries of Europe (including Austria and Switzerland), an anonymous letter by a former Curial Member has been widely reported on, among others by the website of the Swiss Bishops, kath.ch, and by a prominent conservative Austrian website, Kath.net. The well-known German magazine FOCUS published on November 27 an anonymous open letter to Pope Francis, written with earnestness by a former member of the Roman Curia who rebukes the pontiff for his deficient leadership and character flaws.
The author – a priest who worked for many years in the Roman Curia – claims that Pope Francis has “an emotional and anti-intellectual attitude which has difficulties in dealing with theories and doctrines.” In the eyes of the priest, some of the pope’s public and private statements have raised “false expectations and the damaging impression that the teaching and discipline of the Church could and should be adapted to the changing opinions of the majority.” Pope Francis proposed, therefore, to “somehow re-invent the Petrine Office.” And, the author of the letter continues: “Instead of faithfully administering the heritage of your predecessors, you want to make it your own in a quite creative way.”
The anonymous writer also criticizes Pope Francis for his “exaggerated demonstrations of simplicity of your personal way of life” and thus he addresses the pope with these words: “If you really want to drive cars that are ecological, you have to invest, by the way, much more, or to ask someone to give you as a gift the more expensive technology needed: for, ecology has its price.” And the author adds, “a lack of professionalism is not a sign for the working of the Holy Spirit.” Even though expressions like “to breed like rabbits,” or “Who am I to judge…?” might possibly impress some kinds of people, but, in reality, they lead to grave misunderstandings. “Constantly, others have to explain what you really meant to say,” the priest poignantly says.
In summary, he says that “many have difficulties with how you sometimes speak and act.” Since the author knows that Pope Francis does not respond well to critiques, he decided not to put his real name under this letter. He explains: “I want to protect my own superiors against your wrath – especially those priests and the bishops with whom I have worked for years in Rome and from whom I have learned so very much.”
This is not the first time that sincere criticisms from within the Curia have come into the public realm. As might be remembered, for example, in May of 2015, the well-informed Vatican expert, Guiseppe Rusconi, reported on the various internal criticisms of Pope Francis as they were privately and candidly then disclosed to him from within the Roman Curia itself. These criticisms were similar to the one now published by FOCUS magazine.