The Pope told religious superiors that prayer, not tranquillisers, helped give him a sense of peace
In order to deal with stress, Pope Francis writes down all his problems in letters to St Joseph.
During an audience with religious superiors, the Pope said there was “corruption” in the Vatican but that he was at peace.
When asked by one of the superiors about how he keeps his sense of peace, Pope Francis joked that he didn’t take tranquillisers.
He said: “The Italians offer a good lesson – to live in peace you need a healthy ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. I don’t mind telling you that what I am going through is a completely new experience for me.
“In Buenos Aires I was more anxious, I admit it. I felt more tense and worried. Basically I wasn’t like I am now.
“From the moment I was elected I had a very particular feeling of profound peace. And that has never left me. I am at peace. I don’t know how to explain it.”
He added: “There is corruption in the Vatican.” If a problem comes up, Francis explained that he writes it down on a piece of paper and puts it underneath a statue of a sleeping St Joseph which he has in his room.
“Now he sleeps on a mattress of notes!” the Pope said, explaining that this is why “I sleep well: it is the grace of God.”
Pope Francis also pointed to the power of prayer. After praying, “the peace within me grows… my peace is a gift from the Lord,” Pope Francis said.
The Pope made the remarks to 140 superiors general of male religious organisations and congregations at the end of November, at the conclusion of their 88th general assembly.
The text of the conversation was published yesterday as part of the 4,000th issue of Jesuit-run newspaper La Civilta Cattolica.
When asked about how superiors should deal with financial or sexual scandal, the Pope said that “the Lord strongly wants consecrated people to be poor”.
“When they are not, the Lord sends a bursar who leads the institute to bankruptcy!” he explained.
Reflecting on the problem of sexual abuse, Pope Francis said abusers had often been abused themselves and so “abuse is thus sowed into the future and this is devastating.”
“If priests or religious are involved, it is clear that the devil is at work, who ruins the work of Jesus through those who should proclaim him,” he said, and said that this type of behaviour is a “disease”.
“If we are not convinced that this is a disease, we cannot solve the problem,” he said, and urged them to consider carefully if applicants for religious life are “sufficiently emotionally mature” or not.
He told the superiors to “never accept in a religious community or diocese a candidate who has been rejected by another seminar or another institute” without first asking “for very clear and detailed information on the reasons for their rejection.”