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Merry Christmas From DWT

Don't Be An Arrogant Dick Like Elon Musk Or Peter Thiel

I know that a lot of DWT readers are far more skeptical about anything that smacks of religion than I am. All those years working in a meditation center in Amsterdam must’ve gotten to me. I admit that I’m a fan of Pope Francis, if not his church. You can think of him as a public intellectual or an enlightened CEO if you con’t want to think of him as a pope.

On Thursday he gave a speech to the Vatican curia meant to help them repent and meant to offer a way out for reactionaries in the church. He asked them to beware the “elegant demon” that lurks in self-righteous Catholics. Francis knows that cardinals and bishops— and even the priests— who work for the church can be very susceptible to Satan. He 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.”

He urged the Trumpist bigots in the church that Christianity isn’t about following a never-changing set of strict rules but is rather a “process of understanding Christ’s message that never ends, but constantly challenges us.”

Reporting from Rome for the Associated Press, Nicole Winfield wrote that “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. His most blistering critique came in 2014, when he listed the ’15 ailments of the Curia’ that some suffered, including the ‘terrorism of gossip,’ ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’ and of living ‘hypocritical’ double lives. The following year, Francis offered an antidote to the sins by listing the ‘catalog of virtues’ he hoped they would instead follow, including honesty, humility and sobriety. This year was similar in tone, and Francis reprised his critique of forms of abuse that even religious people use against one another.

“There isn’t only the violence of weapons, there is verbal violence, psychological violence, the violence of abuse of power, the hidden violence of gossip,” Francis said, in a possible reference to a new case of abuse of authority that is roiling his own Jesuit order. “Don’t take advantage of your own position and role to mortify the other.”
Beyond that, 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 dicta 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.
Traditionalist Catholics have denounced Francis’ emphasis on mercy and openness to doctrinal wiggle room on issues such as sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. Some have even gone so far as to accuse him of heresy for some of his gestures and preaching, including allowing “pagan” statues in the Vatican.
Francis dedicated the bulk of his speech this year to the need to be vigilant about the work of the devil, picking up a theme he recently discussed during his weekly catechism lessons with the general public.
He told the Vatican bureaucrats it’s not enough to merely condemn evil or root it out, since it often comes back in different guises, stronger than before. Francis used the term “we” repeatedly, suggesting he includes himself among those in the Vatican who must remain mindful of the devil in their midst.
“Before, it appeared rough and violent, now it shows up as elegant and refined,” he warned. “We need to realize that and once again to unmask it. That is how these ‘elegant demons’ are: they enter smoothly, without our even being conscious of them,” he said.

And last night, this was Francis’ Christmas homily. During his anti-war Christmas Eve mass he rebuked those "ravenous" for wealth and power, “our greed for consumption,” at the expense of the vulnerable, especially children. “I think above all of the children devoured by war, poverty and injustice. Yet those are the very places to which Jesus comes, a child in the manger of rejection and refusal.”

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