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Time to Break Out

Pope urges bishops to be vigilant over who they admit to the seminary as world needs “mature and balanced” clergy
Priests must leave their “fortresses”, says Francis 
Christopher Lamb
Pope Francis has said vocations are best generated by pastorally minded priests living in the real world while begging bishops to carefully vet who they ordain.
Speaking at a Vatican conference today, Francis told an audience of cardinals, bishops and vocation experts to re-think their vocations ministry so it did not simply become a bureaucratic pastoral programme.
The Pope told the gathering that their work involves “going out” and listening to people: he pointed out that his own vocation was not the result of a “nice theory” but having experienced the “merciful gaze of Jesus over me.”
In order for this to happen, Francis explained, the Church should stop reducing Catholicism to a “recipe of rules” while clergy needed to break out of their closed worlds.
“It’s sad when a priest lives only for himself, enclosed in the safe fortress of the rectory, the sacristy or among a restricted group of loyal followers,” the Pope told the International Conference on Vocations, organised by the Congregation for Clergy. “On the contrary, we are called to be shepherds among the people, capable of showing pastoral care and taking the time to welcome and listen to everyone, especially young people.”
Francis stressed that the world needs “mature and balanced” priests and appealed to bishops to be vigilant when vetting candidates for ordained ministry.
“When it comes to vocations to the priesthood and those entering the seminary, I beg you to discern the truth, to have a shrewd and cautious look,” Francis explained. “I say this especially to brother bishops: vigilance and prudence.”
The Pope has told bishops in the past that it is better to focus on “quality” rather than “quantity” of vocations and wants to ensure seminaries offer rigorous training of priests
To that end he has appointed Mexican Archbishop Jorge Patron Wong as Secretary for Seminaries at the Congregation for Clergy who is preparing a major document on priestly formation.
The conference took as it’s theme the Pope’s own episcopal motto “Miserando atque eligendo”: this translates as “by having mercy and by choosing” and is taken from a homily on the call of Matthew by English saint, the Venerable Bede.
Francis said that Jesus “does not do long speeches” or “offer ready made answers” but, as he showed with Matthew the tax collector, simply says: “follow me.”

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One Comment

  1. Mary Vallely says:

    Totally agree with Pope Francis ( couldn’t you just hug him at times) about the need to focus on quality rather than quantity when vetting candidates for seminaries. I am not so sure that seminaries are the safe fortresses he describes. Before I am lambasted by those who had positive experiences, let me say I agree that this is not always the case but rumours abound about gay cabals and about bullying and the very word ‘ formation’ carries overtones of being made to fit a certain mould. It doesn’t seem right somehow. Who wants to be ‘formed?’ Not a very inviting propect is it? To be true to oneself is one’s gift back to God.
    Priesthood is in crisis. The Church is in crisis yet our bishops pussyfoot around the issues and give the impression that all is well. Why can’t they admit that we need to talk about these problems and accept that they also need lay input into discussions. Whilst I’m on I might as well give credit to my own AB Eamon Martin who gave a very positive, welcoming, warming speech at Drumcondra last week. It was very much in the spirit of Pope Francis and so I live in hope that slowly, slowly, mercy, compassion, kindness and openness is spreading.(Cardinal Mueller take note. A lot of bereaved people are hurt and bewildered by that ruling on cremations yesterday.)

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