Lay lust for power is not about the Gospel


A lust for service, rather than a lust for power is what should drive the Church’s lay-leaders, Pope Francis says.

Their “mission is to serve, not to wield power or exert control over others.”

Francis made the comments in a meeting last Thursday with moderators of Catholic lay associations, ecclesial movements and new communities. Many of these movements began in the wake of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

“The exercise of governance within associations and movements is a theme that is particularly close to my heart,” he said.

“Especially considering … the cases of abuse of various kinds that have occurred in these realities and that always find their root in the abuse of power.”

“The positions of governance entrusted to you in the lay groups to which you belong are none other than a call to serve,” Francis said forcefully.

There are two obstacles to the call to use leadership as a way to serve others, he continued.

“The desire for power and unfaithfulness to one’s vocation as a Christian, that is, leading a double life that is no longer dedicated to God, but to other things, which always include money.”

Francis went on to explain to the leaders – who were present in person and online – that there can also be unfaithfulness to the charism – which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

He said this was disloyalty or “playing a double game”.

“We say in words that we want to serve God and others, but in fact we serve our ego, and we bend to our desire to appear, to obtain recognition and appreciation.”

Signs of this disloyalty appear when community leaders present themselves as the “only interpreters of the charism” or “the only heirs” so they do everything to stay in power “for life” or decide for themselves who their successors are.

No one is master of the gifts received for the good of the Church – we are administrators – no one should suffocate them,” he warned.

“Instead, each one, where he or she is placed by the Lord, is called to make them … bear fruit …” he continued.

The Vatican has often had to intervene over the years in cases of “sickness,” when the founding charism has “weakened” and fails to attract new members.

Francis then discussed the Holy See’s recently released set of norms for international Catholic lay movements and associations that came into effect this month.

They were devised because of a consistent pattern of recurring concerns over the past several decades showed there was a need to make some changes

The new norms impose term limits on central leadership and mandate that all members have a voice in choosing their leaders as part of an effort to protect people from possible abuse by the groups’ leaders, Francis explained.

They are meant “for everyone, no exception. There are not those who are better or less great, perfect or not. Every church entity is called to conversion, to understand and put into action the spirit that animates the regulations given in the decree,” he said.


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