Pope Francis warns 'rigid' Catholics are making 'minefield' of hatred

Pope Francis targets ‘rigid’ conservative Catholics in Christmas address to cardinals and warns that traditionalists are creating a ‘minefield’ of hatred

  • Pope Francis issued the stark warning to staff while speaking today in the Sala Clementina, Vatican City
  • Leader of the Roman Catholic church urged his followers to embrace change and his attempts at reform
  • Papacy has been rocked by historical sex abuse claims and financial scandals this year 

Pope Francis has used his Christmas message to warn followers that rigidly following the Christian faith is creating a ‘minefield’ of hate and misunderstanding.

The head of the Roman Catholic church spoke candidly to cardinals, bishops, priests and members of staff in the Sala Clementina in the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City, today as he also sought to remind them that the church no longer enjoys the authority it once did. 

The papacy has been rocked by historical sex abuse claims and financial scandals this year.

And the Pope’s leadership has been challenged after he called for married men to be ordained as priests, and was seen with a ‘pagan’ statue of a pregnant woman while in the Amazon. 

Pope Francis also sought to remind cardinals, bishops and priests that the church no longer enjoys the authoritative position it once did. He is pictured arriving at the Sala Clementina, Vatican City, to deliver his Christmas message to employees

The pope, pictured giving his Christmas message to staff, said that rigidly following Christianity could create a ‘minefield’ of hatred and misunderstanding in the wider community


The Pope wore white robes and a cross as he arrived to deliver his Christmas message to employees at the Vatican. (Left, pictured with a guard behind him and, right, speaking)

The Sala Clementina, also known as Clementine Hall in the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City, today as the pope gave his message

During his Christmas message, which was also delivered at the Paul VI Hall, Vatican City, the pope also asked Vatican bureaucrats to consider embracing change. 

‘Today we are no longer the only ones that produce culture, no longer the first nor the most listened to,’ he said. 

‘The faith in Europe and in much of the West is no longer an obvious presumption but is often denied, derided, marginalised and ridiculed.’ 

‘Here we have to beware of the temptation of assuming a rigid outlook.

‘Rigidity that is born from fear of change and ends up disseminating stakes and obstacles in the ground of the common good, turning it into a minefield of misunderstanding and hatred.’

He recalled, as he has in the past, that people who take rigid positions are usually using them to mask their own problems, scandals or ‘imbalances’.

‘Rigidity and imbalance fuel one another in a vicious circle,’ he said. ‘And these days, the temptation to rigidity has become so apparent.’ 

The pope is shown what appear to be pictures of religious individuals, drawn by children, as he greets families of employees before delivering his Christmas message

The pope was also pictured holding up a large ball of pictures as he prepares to deliver a second message at the Paul VI Hall

The pope also spoke to employees from the stage of the Paul VI Hall this morning as he was flanked by papal guards and cardinals

The pope told the assembled crowd: ‘Today we are no longer the only ones that produce culture, no longer the first nor the most listened to’. (Pictured in the Sala Clementina, Apostolic Palace, Vatican City)

He also greeted each cardinal individually. The pope has suffered opposition to his leadership after he said that married men should be allowed to be ordained as priests

Francis’ message appeared aimed at conservative and traditionalist Catholics, including within the Vatican Curia, who have voiced increasing opposition to his progressive-minded papacy. 

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. 

They also sharply criticised his recent synod on the Amazon, which called for the ordination of married men as priests, and what they considered pagan worship of an Amazonian statue of a pregnant woman that was featured during the meeting.

Francis has defended his outlook and priorities as a reflection of the Gospel, and the axium that the true tradition of the church is one of a discerned path of change.

‘Tradition is not static, it’s dynamic,’ he said today.

The pop walks past a sparkling Christmas tree as he prepares to deliver his message to staff at Paul VI Hall


The pope walking into the Paul VI Hall and also admiring a religious drawing depicting a shepherd and two children that had been coloured in by a child

Francis has defended his outlook and priorities as a reflection of the Gospel, and the axium that the true tradition of the church is one of a discerned path of change. He is pictured here with crowds

‘Tradition is not static, it’s dynamic,’ he said today in the Sala Clementina to assembled cardinals, bishops and priests

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