In a forceful message to more than 100 scarlet-clad cardinals arrayed before him, Pope Francis on Sunday (Feb. 23) warned them that they are “not a royal court” and told them to avoid “habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favoritism and preferences.”
Francis has repeatedly called on clerics to live simply and humbly, and at a service a day earlier in which he added 19 new members to the College of Cardinals the pope also told them to work together and avoid “rivalry, jealousy, factions.”
But his homily at mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday was especially powerful and came just before the first anniversary of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, who stepped down after his papacy was repeatedly undermined by scandals and infighting in the Roman Curia.
Benedict attended Saturday’s ceremony, his first public appearance at a liturgy since he stepped down, but he was not at Sunday’s mass.
“Dear brother Cardinals, may we remain united in Christ and among ourselves!” Francis said on Sunday, repeatedly imploring the men knows as “princes of the church” to forgive every insult so that “our way be that of holiness.”
“To be a saint is not a luxury. It is necessary for the salvation of the world,” Francis said.
In an unscripted remark he looked up from his text and challenged them to undergo a “heartfelt conversion: this is something that all of us – especially you Cardinals and myself – must do. Conversion!”