Pope Francis receives in audience the priests of the Convitto San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, 7 June 2021 – ANSA / VATICAN MEDIA
“My frailty, that of each of us is the theological place of encounter with the Lord. The ‘superman’ priests end badly, all of them. It is one of the exhortations that Pope Francis addressed to the priests of the Convitto San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome received in audience. The Pontiff interspersed his speech with some off-the-cuff interventions, in which he recalled not to fall into chattering, “the habit of priests who become spinsters” and to be shepherds “of joy” together with “a sense of humor”, a characteristic of holiness. He also renewed his wish to be shepherds “with ‘the smell of the sheep'”, and invited us to “always have great horizons, to dream of a Church wholly at service, a more fraternal and supportive world”.
“In community life, there is always the temptation to create small closed groups, to isolate oneself, to criticize and speak ill of others, to believe oneself superior, more intelligent. Chattering is a habit of closed groups, a habit of priests who become old maids … it doesn’t help, forget it … And this undermines us all! Not good, “the Pope said.”May you always welcome one another as a gift. In a fraternity lived in truth, in the sincerity of relationships and in a life of prayer we can form a community in which one breathes the air of joy and tenderness. I encourage you to live the precious moments of sharing and community prayer in an active and joyful participation “.
Bergoglio also renewed his wish to be “shepherds with ‘the smell of sheep’, people capable of living, laughing and crying with your people, in a word of communicating with them”. “It worries me – he added off the cuff – when reflections are made, thoughts on the priesthood, as if it were a laboratory. One cannot reflect on the priesthood outside the holy people of God. The ministerial priesthood is a consequence of the baptismal priesthood of the holy faithful people of God. Do not forget this. If you think of a priesthood isolated from the people of God, that is not a Catholic priesthood, nor even a Christian one “.