Rigid priests are a manifestation of clericalism

clericalism and rigidity

Pope Francis has urged a group of Italian seminarians to avoid clericalism and rigidity. He encouraged them to ask God for the gift of docility instead.

“Clericalism is a perversion of the priesthood: it is a perversion. And rigidity is one of the manifestations,” the pope said June 10.

“When I find a rigid seminarian or young priest, I say ‘something bad is happening to this one on the inside.’ Behind every rigidity, there is a serious problem because rigidity lacks humanity.”

Francis spoke about the qualities of a good seminarian and priest in a meeting with students, the rector, and formators of the Pius XI regional pontifical seminary, located in Ancona, Italy.

The seminary, he said, should not distance its students from reality, from dangers, and others, “but, on the contrary, make you closer to God and your brothers.”

The pope also encouraged the seminarians to be steeped in the Word of God, not only internet chatter.

“Do not be satisfied with being skilled in the use of social media and digital media to communicate,” he advised. “Only transformed by the Word of God will you be able to communicate words of life.”

He added that “the world is thirsty for priests who can communicate the goodness of the Lord to those who have experienced sin and failure, for priests who are experts in humanity, for pastors willing to share the joys and labours of their brothers, for men who allow themselves to be changed by the cry of those who suffer.”

“The Son of God accepted to let himself be loved and guided by human parents, Mary and Joseph, teaching each of us that without docility no one can grow and mature,” he said.

Francis emphasized the importance of asking for the gift of docility, which he said “is a constructive attitude of one’s vocation and also of one’s personality.”

He also encouraged seminarians and young priests to speak to the old priests in their diocese, who are “the treasure of the Church.”

“So many of them are sometimes forgotten or in a retirement home: go and see them,” he urged.

For Francis, what is necessary is a model of ministry rooted in service where well-formed pastors have the “smell of the sheep.”  They need to authentically represent the figure of Jesus who bent down to wash the feet of the disciples.

“If you think of a priesthood isolated from the people of God, that is not a Catholic priesthood,” the Pope told a group of priests. “Nor is it even Christian one.”



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