In this month’s edition of ‘The Pope Video’ Pope Francis speaks about the consequences of corruption and calls for the condemnation of this evil. The Pope describes corruption as “a process of death that feeds the culture of death” and relates it to being “at the root of slavery, unemployment, and disregard for nature and goods held in common”. He says that corruption is not countered with silence, remarking that “we must speak about it, denounce its evils, and try to understand it so as to show our resolve to make mercy reign over meanness, beauty over nothingness”. Francis concludes with the invitation to pray for his monthly prayer intention for February: “Let us pray that those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.”
Fr Frédéric Fornos SJ, international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, noted that it’s not surprising the Pope included this theme among the prayer intentions of this year. “This is something that concerns him deeply,” he said, “and which he has spoken about on many occasions. Corruption affects many nations of the world and it is an evil that destroys and kills.” In an address at the Vatican on 23 October 2014, Pope Francis described corruption as “the victory of appearances over reality and of brazenness over honourable discretion”. He remarked that the corrupt person “knows neither brotherhood nor friendship, but complicity and enmity”. The corrupt one “does not perceive his corruption…it is the others who notice it and have to tell him about it”, he said. For this reason, the Pope explained, “it is unlikely that the corrupt person will be able to recognise his state and change through inner remorse”.
Dermot McCarthy, a deacon at Westland Row parish in Dublin City Centre and former advisor to the Taoiseach, reflects on the Pope’s Prayer Intention for February for Living Prayer, a booklet produced by Messenger Publications containing reflections on the Pope’s monthly intentions. He says that “A robust system to detect corruption will not only protect people from abuse: it may restore trust in society and combat the poison of cynicism”. According to Dermot “transparency can make corrupt behaviour seem less attractive because of the risk of being caught”. He outlines that while some people “may fear it to be common in high places, corruption can be an equal opportunity temptation: wherever power over others is exercised – in church, state or workplace.”
Writing in February’s Sacred Heart Messenger magazine, Kevin Hargaden, Social Theology Officer at the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice says that it is important for us to take up Pope Francis’ challenge and pray that those who have power may resist corruption. The invitation of the Pope to pray for this intention “brings our devotion into contact with the concrete political problems that affect our society”, remarks Kevin. He explains that following the Pope’s example our Sunday worship must be reflected outwards in our professional lives on Monday morning.
“Being a Christian entails working for justice, and resisting the easy culture of turning the blind eye,” remarks Kevin. He states that what marks out Christian community is that it is “wide and open”, explaining that “the acquaintance, the stranger, even the enemy deserves our care and hospitality”. “It can take courage to stand up for what is right, but Pope Francis is clear that transparency and fairness are targets we should aim at”, he says. In the context of resisting corruption in Ireland this “often means standing up to the people we are close to”, he argues.