Friday, November 20, 2015


Pope Francis has a way with words and phrases that stick. This one is a good one too!

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday said a good priest “creates serenity,” and a priest “that is often sad, nervous, or has a hard character” is not good for himself or his people.

The Holy Father was addressing a Conference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy marking the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Vatican II decrees Presbyterorum ordinis [Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests] and Optatam Totius [Decree on Priestly Training].

Pope Francis focused on three brief phrases found in a passage of Presbyterorum ordinis, stating that priests are “taken from among men,”  “ordained for men,”  and “live in the midst of other men.”

“Even priests have a biography, and are not ‘mushrooms which sprout up suddenly at the Cathedral on their day of ordination,” said the Holy Father. “It is important for formators  and the priests themselves to remember this, and know how to take this personal history into account along the formation path.”

The Pope added the “fundamental place” of the human formation of the priesthood is the family, which Is the “centre of pastoral work” and can do much to foster vocations

“A good priest is first of all a man with his own humanity, who knows his own history – with its treasures and wounds – and has learned to make peace with it, gaining a profound serenity, characteristic of a disciple of the Lord,” he said. “Human formation is therefore needed for priests, so they may learn not to be dominated by their limits, but rather to put their talents to use.”
The Pope said a priest is “a man of peace” who surrounds himself with serenity, even during hardships.

“It is not normal for a priest to be often sad, nervous, or of a hard character; it is not good, and does no good, neither for the priest nor for his people,” he said.

Pope Francis said “our humanity is the ‘clay pot’ in which we guard the treasure of God,” and so care must be taken to protect it.

Moving to the second point, the Holy Father reminded priests they are called “to serve our brothers and sisters.”

“We are not priests for our own sake, and our sanctification is closely linked to that of our people, our anointing to their anointing,” he said, adding priests should be “authoritative, not authoritarian; firm, but not hard; joyful, but not superficial…in short, shepherds, not functionaries.”

Finally, turning to the third point, Pope Francis said priests must remain with their people, and not treat the priesthood “like a job one does, and afterwards lives a life apart.”

“The good that priests can do comes primarily from their proximity to - and a tender love for - their people,” he said. “They are not philanthropists or functionaries, but fathers and brothers.”


Anonymous said...

THIS..I like from our Holy Father!

Seems if one tweaks the wording, it would apply to many roles in life..parent, boss, friend, etc.
Good advice for us all.


Jusadbellum said...

Almost all the good and great priests I've known speak fondly of their mothers but have had strong and good relationships with their own fathers. It seems to make them secure in their own skin and gives them a depth and stability that is often missing in this world.

The interesting thing is this seems to be the case regardless of ethnicity, height, looks, and natural ability. I've known handicapped priests who thrived in tough parishes despite heavy opposition etc. Their dads seemed to give them this confidence to see the forest for the trees, to not sweat the small stuff, to not be afraid of other peoples' hostility or betrayals.

I can only imagine that this is because just as a priest is in Persona Christi, Jesus himself derived this human and superhuman strength from St. Joseph's solid and secure service and from the Father who was always present throughout his life.

I have never thought our Lord's words from the cross "eloi, eloi..." were a cry of despair or an experience of being abandoned by God. The context was the howling mob of Pharisees who were probably quoting scripture to taunt him and claim he couldn't possibly be God's son or the Messiah because of this or that interpretation of scripture.

Quoting the beginning of Psalm 22 in that context, before those howling mobs, who were fulfilling that very scripture, would have been a devastating comeback to anyone who was listening (which would have been St. John and company).

The Father was always on Jesus' mind. I think any priest of God ought to have (all things being equal) that same profound and loving relationship with their earthly father.

Flavius Hesychius said...

That picture is horrifying...

Dorota Mosiewicz-Patalas said...

This whole tirade by Francis sounds very fake and shallow to me, as though directly taken from some leadership workshop, an exercise in socio-engineering.
I remember an entire class of university students being instructed in qualities of leaders, while I opposed this socio-engineering exercise and announced that leaders emerge from within their groups, and are not created.
It is the same with priests. They receive a calling from God. With this calling, as were Jesus' disciples, each remains a unique person. Some are more friendly than others, some are better administrators than others, some are more sinful than others.
God calls them, and God knows why he calls them, a very diverse group of people. What binds them together is their mission, not their friendly predisposition. I can imagine a priest who is very stern, and who brings many to the Church. He would be a person who relies on God, rather than understanding of his psyche (self-knowledge they call it) and knowledge of socio-engineering techniques.
The pope should know that a priest's service has everything to do with trust in God, the mission of the Church, and nothing to do with psycho-babble.

Gene said...

Everything Francis says seems fake and shallow. Now, he is saying he is suspicious of Priests who are "too pious or too fundamentalist." But, what does he mean? My impression of the Pope is that anyone who believes the articles of the Creed and in the bodily resurrrection of Christ is "too pious and too fundamentalist." I guess Cavy Gnaw would be the Pope's ideal Priest. God help us.

Gene said...

Actually, Flavius, that picture sort of captures the essence of Cavy Gnaw...if you get my drift...think Freud.

gob said...

Eugene, your remark might lead one to think that you consider yourself to be one who would fall in that "too pious" category. Is that what you believe?

George said...


Psalm 22 can be seen as prophetic, as can be said of many other passages in the Old Testament. Christ's suffering was not just to be a physical one, but also one arising from experiencing abandonment, mental anguish and psychological distress. We know that Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the embodiment of the New. Being God, and therefore having knowledge of all things, He knew the Sacred writings and had no problem quoting them. Christ fully experienced our human condition and was "like to us in all things except sin". He willingly took on all sufferings that encompass our human nature. I don't believe He was into devastating comebacks toward those who were mocking Him.

George said...

It should not be inferred from my comments @ 6:23 that Christ despaired or doubted which of course would constitute sin. He suffered in the way he did because of the loss of many souls despite His Passion and Death, and also because of the lack of and loss of faith by so many. The sins of man not only bore down on Him physically, but mentally as well

Anonymous said...

The Pope has obviously well forgotten one of our first priests, St Peter, who was wobbly and nervous and denied Our Lord three times. Just as Peter grew into the priestly service, so do priests and I think if he wants to see an increase in vocations then the Pope needs to tone himself down because the job is hard enough without Pope Francis adding to the burden. Contrast what Pope Francis has said about priests with the uplifting style of Pope St John Paul II The Great. There are ways of saying things and Pope Francis misses the boat every time:

"The priestly vocation is essentially a call to sanctity, in the form that derives from the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Sanctity is intimacy with God; it is the imitation of Christ, poor, chaste and humble; it is unreserved love for souls and self-giving to their true good; it is love for the church which is holy and wants us to be holy, because such is the mission that Christ has entrusted to it. Each one of you must be holy also in order to help your brothers pursue their vocation to sanctity." (Rome, Italy, October 9, 1984)

"The world looks to the priest, because it looks to Jesus! No one can see Christ; but everyone sees the priest, and through him they wish to catch a glimpse of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur and dignity of the priest!" (Rome, Italy, October 13, 1979)

"Called, consecrated, sent. This triple dimension explains and determines your conduct and your lifestyle. You are 'set apart;' 'segregated,' but not 'separated.' What would separate you, would be to forget or to overlook the meaning of the consecration that characterizes your priesthood. To be but one more in your profession, in your lifestyle, in your way of living, in your political obligations, would not help you to fully carry out your mission. You would betray your own faithful who want you to be priests through and through."
(Valencia, Spain, November 8, 1982)