Pope Francis says neurotic priests scare him

Pope Francis has described some Catholic priests as so scary and neurotic that he keeps away from them.

At a conference on Friday marking 50 years since Vatican II’s declarations on priestly ministry and training, the Pontiff said he is instinctively suspicious of overly pious candidates for ordination.

“I will tell you sincerely, I’m scared of rigid priests,” he said.

“I keep away from them. They bite!”

Francis resorted to humour to make a point that some people that are drawn to a priestly vocation lack a certain stability.

This inevitably creates problems for the Church if they continue on to priesthood.

“If you are sick, if you are neurotic, go and see a doctor, spiritual or physical,” the Pope added.

“The doctor will give you pills. But, please, don’t let the faithful pay for neurotic priests.”

As well as assessing the spiritual state of candidates, seminaries should also seek to judge their physical and psychological condition, Francis argued.

“There are often young men who are psychologically unstable without knowing it and who look for strong structures to support them.

“For some it is the police or the army but for others it is the clergy,” the Pope added, warning that such disorders inevitably resurface at a later date.

“When a youngster is too rigid, too fundamentalist, I don’t feel confident (about him).

“Behind it there is something he himself does not understand. Keep your eyes open!”

Francis said 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.”


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