Pope at Audience: Combat pride with humility

During his Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis continues his catechetical series on virtues and vices, focusing on the sin of pride and stressing the need to combat it with the 'remedy' of humility.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

"Let us take advantage of this Lent to fight against our pride," Pope Francis urged during his weekly General Audience on Wednesday morning in the Vatican.

The Holy Father asked a collaborator, Father Pierluigi Giroli from the Vatican Secretariat of State, to read for him, since he still has "a bit of a cold."

As spring approaches in Rome, the Audience debuted again in St. Peter's Square, after the chilling winter mornings had moved it, as they do every year, into the Vatican's Paul VI Hall. The Holy Father circled among the enthusiastic crowds before the audience began.

The vice of pride

This week, the Pope continued his catechetical series on vices and virtues, examining the vice of pride.

This vice, which has been translated roughly as “excessive splendor,” and is visible through "self-exaltation, conceit, and vanity," the Pope recalled, is among the vices that Jesus warned about "in the heart of man."

The vice of pride, he noted, is very close to that of vainglory, which was examined at last week's Audience. "However, if vainglory is a disease of the human self," the Pope said, "it is still a childish disease, when compared to the havoc that pride is capable of." 

Distances from God

"Of all vices," Pope Francis said, "pride is the 'great queen.'"

He said "it is no accident" that, in the Divine Comedy, Dante places it in the very first level of purgatory. "Those who give in to this vice are far from God," the Pope observed, "and the correction of this evil, requires time and effort, more than any other battle to which the Christian is called."

"Within this evil," he explained, "lies the radical sin, the absurd claim to be like God." The sin of Adam and Eve, recounted in the book of Genesis, "is for all intents and purposes," the Pope said, a sin of pride, for the tempter tells them, “When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5).

Writers on spirituality, he added, are especially attentive in describing the consequences of pride in everyday life, frequently illustrating how it ruins human relationships.

Impossible to correct

The Pope observed that proud people are easy to recognize. "You realize that you are dealing with a proud person," Pope Francis said, "when, on offering him a little constructive criticism, or making a completely harmless remark, he reacts in an exaggerated manner, as if someone had offended 'his majesty.'"

There is little one can do with a person suffering from pride, he suggested. "It is impossible to talk to them, much less correct them," he explained, "because ultimately they are no longer present to themselves."

"One just has to be patient with them," he said, "because one day their edifice will collapse."

In the Gospels, the Holy Father recalled, Jesus deals with a lot of proud people, as he remembered how the Lord often exposed this vice "even in people who hid it very well." 

Remedy for pride

"Salvation," the Pope said, "comes through humility," calling it "the true remedy for every act of pride."

In this context, the Holy Father reminded the faithful that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Pope Francis concluded by calling on all Christians to fight against their pride this Lenten season.

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06 March 2024, 09:28

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