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Pope: Envious people seem to be always “investigating the ground”

Pope Francis blesses faithful at the end of his weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 02/28/24

While still a bit sick, the Pope continued his catechesis on virtues and vices. Today's reflection was on envy and vainglory.

Pope Francis continued his catechesis series on vices and virtues at the February 28 general audience, but admitting that he is still a bit under the weather, he asked an official of the Vatican Secretariat of State to read his prepared text.

The Holy Father considered two vices: envy and vanity.

About envy, he said that its root is a false idea of God: “We do not accept that God has His own ‘math,’ different from ours.”

It is, he explained, one of the “oldest vices”:

If we read Holy Scripture (cf. Gen 4), it appears to us as one of the oldest vices: Cain’s hatred of Abel is unleashed when he realizes that his brother’s sacrifices are pleasing to God. Cain was the firstborn of Adam and Eve, he had taken the largest share of his father’s inheritance; yet, it is enough for Abel, the younger brother, to succeed in a small feat, for Cain to become enraged. The face of the envious man is always sad: he’s always looking down, he seems to be continually investigating the ground; but in reality, he sees nothing, because his mind is wrapped up in thoughts full of wickedness. Envy, if unchecked, leads to hatred of the other. Abel would be killed at the hands of Cain, who could not bear his brother’s happiness.

Vainglory, the Holy Father continued, goes hand in hand with the “demon of envy”:

And together these two vices are characteristic of a person who aspires to be the centre of the world, free to exploit everything and everyone, the object of all praise and love. Vainglory is an inflated and baseless self-esteem. The vainglorious person possesses an unwieldy “I”: he has no empathy and takes no notice of the fact that there are other people in the world besides him. His relationships are always instrumental, marked by the dominating the other. His person, his accomplishments, his achievements must be shown to everyone: he is a perpetual beggar for attention. And if at times his qualities are not recognized, he becomes fiercely angry. 

Pope FrancisSpiritual LifeVirtue
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