Monday, December 22, 2014

Pope Francis' Speech to the Roman Curia and Being a Boston Driver

There really is no point in denying it.  I am a Boston driver.  If you are in front of me and don't take the right on red, expect a honk of the horn.  Out for a leisurely Sunday drive in the passing lane?  Expect the horn.  There are a lot of things that you can do on the road that annoy me.  But, I have to admit something.  I'm kind of a hypocrite when it comes to driving.

If I'm behind you, you're going too slow.  If you're behind me, you're going too fast and are driving like a madman.  Occasionally, I catch myself and realize that the stuff that other people on the road do to annoy me, I sometimes do myself.  In fact, sometimes in a span of minutes, I commit the same offense for which I have blown the horn of terror at some other person for doing.  When they do it, it's clearly because they are an idiot who doesn't know how to drive.  When I do it, it's because I'm human and, after all, we all make mistakes.  They should be patient with me.

All of this comes to mind today because there has been a lot of talk about a speech that Pope Francis gave to the Curia at the Vatican.  To read the headlines, he basically blasted the cardinals, bishops, and priests who work there for a host of problems.  It was a long speech, but what made the headlines were criticisms that focus on the sicknesses that he sees as afflicting the Curia.  Careerism, gossip, envy, lack of charity, and things of this nature.  Many will (and have) read the speech and have gloated over it.  They read it and think, "Wow, good ole Pope Francis is really telling those guys off.  Good for him!"  But, if that is our attitude, then we are like that driver going around the city beeping at other people, but doing the same thing ourselves.

I think it would be a mistake for anyone to read that speech and feel gleeful that the "bad drivers" finally got pulled over and were given a Pontifical Citation for Bad Behavior.  There are plenty of citations to go around.  My temptation at this point is to provide examples of things that priests and bishops do that qualify them to be included at the Pope Francis speed trap.  That, however, would mean that I am putting myself as one of those self-righteous drivers who passes by the long line of cars pulled over at the side of the road, and who feels justified that he is not counted among those being shamed by the flashing blue lights.  When that happens to me on the road, it is not usually because I am without fault.  It's just that the cop saw someone else first.

So, if the guys in the Curia just happened to get pulled over first, that doesn't make me innocent or better than them.  The flashing blue lights are a reminder that it could just have easily been me pulled over and cited for any number of offenses.  Pettiness, gossip, careerism, not standing up for what is right out of fear of not being looked favorably upon?  There are very few drivers along the ecclesiastical highway who probably aren't guilty of a some of that.

There are probably any number of bishops and priests who go around blowing the horn when they see  evidence of this in others, but I think the Pope's speech is designed to make all of us pause and recognize our own violations in this regard.  Chances are good that we are all a little guilty of some ecclesiastical moving violations.  The Pope's speech could be for us like one of those little electronic signs you see on the highway that say, "You are going 42 MPH in a 25MPH Zone."  The speech is an opportunity for every deacon, priest, bishop, cardinal, religious, and lay person to examine himself or herself and to make the necessary corrections.  

1 comment:

  1. I understand your point but I think some of the gloating over this speech is motivated by a strong desire to see the Church rid itself of the shameful corruption that has hurt so many including people in the trenches trying to be missionaries to an increasingly skeptical public. Some traffic violators are let off with a warning while others are thrown in jail.