Priests, bishops and popes must learn to leave, says Pope

Priests, bishops and the pope must learn to leave their posts when it becomes necessary, says Pope Francis.

He says he prays all bishops follow the example of the Apostle Paul with his obedience to the Holy Spirit and his love for his flock.

“I think about myself [in relation to St Paul summoning the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus to take his leave of them] because I am a bishop and I must take my leave and step down.”

Francis says St. Paul, who was “compelled by the Holy Spirit” to leave Ephesus and journey to Jerusalem, “shows us the pathway for every bishop when it’s time to take his leave and step down.

“I am thinking of all bishops.

“May the Lord grant all of us the grace to be able to take our leave and step down in this way [like Paul], with that spirit, with that strength, with that love for Jesus Christ and this faith in the Holy Spirit.

“All pastors must take our leave.

“There comes a moment where the Lord tells us: go somewhere else, go there, go this way, come to me.

“And one of the steps a pastor must do is to prepare himself to take good leave, not to leave halfway.”

Francis has previously hinted at the possibility that he might resign.

In 2015 he said the Catholic Church should not have “leaders for life.”

In 2014 he said Pope Benedict XVI’s 2013 resignation “cleared a path” for future papal resignations.

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