On Sunday Pope Francis celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Vatican Gendarme by thanking the security force for their tireless service, and warned against modern crimes linked to exploitation and corruption.
“Crooks love the scam and hate honesty. Crooks love bribes,
agreements done in the dark. This is worse than anything, because he
believes he's being honest,” the Pope told members of the Vatican
Gendarme Sept. 18.
The crook “loves money, loves wealth,” he said, and, calling wealth
an “idol,” noted that crooks “trample on the poor” with no concern or
He noted how there are many people throughout the world today who
have large, large industries of slave labor. In the world today slave
labor is a management style.”
The responsibility of the Vatican Gendarme, then, is to serve by
fighting against “scams, against crooks, against exploiters…Your
responsibility is to deal with those who do bad things, like the
exploiter and the crook. Your responsibility is to defend honesty,” he
said, and thanked them for their tireless service.
Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Corps of
the Vatican Gendarmes, a civilian police and security force overseen by
Vatican City, on the occasion of their 200th anniversary.
In his homily, the Pope pointed to the day’s readings, noting how
they present three different types of people, which he named “the
exploiter, the crook and the faithful man.”
The exploiter, described by the Prophet Amos in the First Reading, is
someone “taken in by a manic form of gain” to the point they become
annoyed and impatient by liturgical days of rest, because “they break
the fast pace of business,” he said.
For the person who exploits, “his only God is money, and his way of
acting is dominated by fraud and exploitation at the expense are above
all the poor and destitute,” Francis said, noting that this type of
person still exists today.
On the other hand, the crook, as seen in the parable of the dishonest
steward from the day’s Gospel from Luke, is someone who lacks fidelity
and uses scams and deception as his business method, the Pope continued.
Asking how the steward got to the point of cheating and stealing from
his master, Pope Francis said it wasn’t from one day to the next, but
“little by little. Maybe one day a tip here, another day a bribe there,
and so little by little he arrives to corruption.”
While the master praises the steward for his “cleverness” in making
up the funds after realizing his steward had been stealing from him,
“it’s a completely worldly and strongly sinful cleverness, which does a
lot of bad,” Francis observed.
However, he noted that there is a type of Christian cleverness that
knows how to do things in a wise and honest way, rather than a worldly
one. To be as wise as serpents but as pure as doves, he said, is a grace
from the Holy Spirit that we must ask for.
Turning to the figure of the faithful man, the Pope said this is the
one who follows Jesus and is “a man of prayer, in the double sense that
he prays for others and trusts in the prayer of others for him.”
This type of person knows how to be faithful in the small things and
in the big, he said, noting that unfortunately the world today is still
full of crooks and corrupt people.
“It strikes me how corruption pervades everywhere,” he said, and
noted how the day’s Gospel passage leads to the final choice that no one
can serve two masters, “because either he will hate one and love the
other, or will be devoted to one and despise the other.”
Francis thanked the Vatican Gendarme Corps for their “vocation,”
often times being poorly paid. He recognize that “many times you must
fight against temptations of those who want to buy you,” and said he is
proud that the Gendarme style is one of saying “'no, I have nothing to
do with this.”
“I thank you for these two centuries of service, and I wish for all
of you that the society of Vatican City, that the Holy See, from the
lowest to the highest, recognize your service.”
This is a service “which guards, a service which seeks not only to do
things justly, but also with charity, with tenderness and even risking
your own lives,” he said, and asked for God to bless them.
Shortly after celebrating Mass Pope Francis led faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square in praying the Angelus.
Reflecting on similar themes, he told pilgrims before the prayer that
as Christians, we must respond to worldly cleverness with Christian
astuteness, which is "a gift of the Holy Spirit."
While worldliness is manifested in attitudes of corruption, deception
and abuse of power that lead down the path of sin, Christian cunning is
"a serious, but full of joy, and commited lifestyle marked by honesty,
correctness, respect for others and for their dignity, and by the sense
Francis stressed that it's important "to decide which direction to
take," but that when we seek to follow the logic of the Gospel and of
fraternity, "we become artisans of justice and open horizons of hope for