.- 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 second thought.
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 of duty."
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 humanity."
This article was updated at 12:10p.m. local time with the Pope's words during his Angelus address.