Francis tells Curial officials that his listing of their spiritual diseases two years ago was part of the process

Pope Francis has described 12 principles that guide the reform of the Roman Curia in his Christmas address to Vatican officials.

He also talked about resistance to reform, saying that while it was “healthy” to encounter difficulties, some resistance was “malicious”, its “ill intentions” inspired by the Devil.

The Pope explained that his now-famous address to the Roman Curia in 2014, listing its spiritual diseases, was part of the process of reform, which relies on personal conversion.

“Every surgical operation, if it is to be successful, must be preceded by detailed diagnosis and careful analysis, and needs to be accompanied and followed up by precise prescriptions,” he said.

He said resistance in this process was “normal, and indeed healthy”. He distinguished between “open”, “hidden” and “malicious” resistance.

“There can be cases of open resistance, often born of goodwill and sincere dialogue, and cases of hidden resistance, born of fearful or hardened hearts content with the empty rhetoric of a complacent spiritual reform, on the part of those who say they are ready for change, but want everything to remain as it is.

“There are also cases of malicious resistance, which spring up in misguided minds and come to the fore when the devil inspires ill intentions (often cloaked in sheep’s clothing).

“This last kind of resistance hides behind words of self-justification and often accusation; it takes refuge in traditions, appearances, formalities, in the familiar, or else in a desire to make everything personal, failing to distinguish between the act, the actor, and the action.”

The “absence of reaction”, the Pope said, was “a sign of death”, and therefore good and “not quite so good” cases of resistance should be listened to and encouraged.

The 12 principles for reform, translated by Vatican Radio, are: individual responsibility (personal conversion), pastoral concern (pastoral conversion), missionary spirit (Christocentrism), clear organisation, improved functioning, modernisation (updating), sobriety, subsidiarity, synodality, Catholicity, professionalism, gradualism (discernment).

Without individual conversion, the Pope said, “all structural change would prove useless”, while “pastoral concern and a spirituality of service and communion” are “the antidote to all the venoms of vain ambition and illusory rivalry”.

The Pope reportedly gave Curial officials a book, Measures to treat diseases of the soul ( Industriae ad curandos animae morbos), by the Italian Jesuit Fr Claudio Acquaviva, often referred to as the second founder of the Society of Jesus.

The Pope said this was on the recommendation of Cardinal Walter Brandmüller.