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At a third triennial meeting with apostolic nuncios, Pope Francis reminded them not to criticize him or the Church “behind his back.”

Last Thursday, Pope Francis held a meeting with over 100 apostolic nuncios at Clementine Hall within the Apostolic Palace. The third triennial meeting of its kind – the first two in 2013 and 2016 – he reminded his ambassadors of their responsibility not to criticize the pope, the Roman curia, or the Church.

“It is therefore irreconcilable to be a pontifical representative criticizing the pope behind his back, having blogs or even joining groups hostile to him, to the curia and to the Church of Rome.”

Pope Francis didn’t address the group with planned discourse, but instead engaged in dialogue with them as a “meditation on the role of the Nuncio.” He offered them a a list of “simple and elementary” precepts, a kind of “Ten Commandments” to help them live out their mission.

One of the ten is entitled “the nuncio is a man of the Pope,” saying “certainly every person could have reservations, likes and dislikes, but a good nuncio cannot be hypocritical.” The document also calls for the nuncio to be a man “of the Church, of apostolic zeal, reconciliation, initiative, obedience, prayer, active charity, and humility.”

Pope Francis said that men are called to “obey God rather than men,” yet obedience to God cannot occur with being obedient to the Church and one’s superiors.

“Saint Augustine attributes much importance to obedience, no less than that attributed to love, to humility, to wisdom, which are fundamental, to the point that there can be no true love, sincere humility, or authentic wisdom except in the ambit of obedience.”

He concluded 4,000 word document “with the virtue of humility,” sharing with the nuncios┬áthe “Litany of Humility” by Servant of God Rafael Merry dal Val.

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