In September, Pope Francis fired a Paraguayan bishop accused of sheltering a pedophile. Francis said his decision to fire the bishop was incredibly difficult. However, it was necessary for “the greater good of preserving the unity of the local church.” Pope Francis’ decision to fire the bishop underlines his “zero tolerance” approach to sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis followed up on his zero tolerance as he launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, outlining a “catalog of illnesses” plaguing the church’s central administration, including a “narcissistic pathology of power, existential schizophrenia.” The pope also denounced the lust for power of ladder-climbing clerics—those who indulge in hypocritical double lives, and lamented a sense of “spiritual Alzheimer’s” that leads clerics to forget the joy that is supposed to animate their lives. He was especially critical of cliques that enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body, eventually leading to “death by friendly fire.”

Many would argue that the same could be said about our own political leaders. But remember, we’re the ones who voted them into office. Are our own religious leaders guilty of the pope’s accusations? And what about us? Are we also suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s?

2 Peter 1:5-9 tells us to, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

We are told that the Christmas season is a time for faith, goodness, joy and godliness—that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” And yet, our lives are plagued with greed, jealousy, hate, violence and discord—just the opposite of what Peter tells us we should possess as Christians! Have we forgotten that as Christians we possess all of the godly qualities that Peter speaks of?

James chapter 4 gives us the reason AND the solution for all of the hate that is plaguing our communities. The reason: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

The solution: “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Pope Francis suggested that his prelates examine and improve themselves. Should we not do the same?

If ever there was a time to pray for revival in the Church, it is now! May this Christmas season fill us all with a resolute spirit to seek God and His righteousness and love for our fellow human beings.

My heavenly father, I am crying—crying for the hurting—crying for the haters. I am crying from seeing people killing one another. Please hear my prayer! Help us stop all the hate on earth! Please give us peace again. Please look at these people killing and being killed and show them your mercy! Let us return to the God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Please hear my prayer and do what you think is good. Amen.

 

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