Pope Francis and a better way to choose bishops

By now it should be clear.

Pope Francis really believes there is a serious lack of quality among priests and bishops in the Catholic church. Otherwise, he would not talk so often about the negative traits of certain men in ordained ministry, as he’s done again several times in recent days.

“The world is tired of lying charmers and — allow me say — of ‘fashionable’ priests or ‘fashionable’ bishops,” to a group of 94 bishops consecrated in the last two years for dioceses in mission territories.

“The people ‘scent’ — the People of God have God’s ‘scent’ — the people can ‘scent’ and they withdraw when they recognize narcissists, manipulators, defenders of personal causes and standard bearers of worthless crusades,” the pope warned the so-called “baby bishops,” who were in Rome for a training seminar.

He also cautioned them about too easily accepting seminarians or incardinating already ordained priests into their dioceses.

Explore Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family with our free study guide.
“Don’t allow yourselves to be tempted by numbers and quantity of vocations, but rather look for the quality of discipleship. … And be careful when a seminarian seeks refuge in rigidity — because underneath this there’s always something bad,” he said.

The pope also warned the bishops to beware of a certain “sickness of our times,” which he said was incardinating “clergy who are wandering or in transit from one place to another.” He told them to act with “prudence and responsibility” in this area.

Why does Francis feel the need to say all this? Because he obviously sees it as a common problem throughout the Catholic world.

“It’s a horrible thing for the church when its pastors act like princes,” he said just two days earlier at his Wednesday general audience.

He was not being hypothetical.

He was denouncing something he believes is far too prevalent — that there are Catholic bishops who, in contrast to the people they’ve been appointed to serve, live more like royalty or wealthy CEOs.

He made that observation already in the first weeks after becoming pope at a meeting with papal nuncios (or Vatican ambassadors), men who play a key role in the selection of bishops. Continue reading

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