Audience with the community of the Convitto di San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome: “Your fraternity, a testimony in a society marked by individualism and indifference. Beware of the temptation to isolate yourself and criticize and speak ill of others, you become zitelloni”. The invitation to be “priests with the smell of sheep”. Gratitude to Father Landousies, for a long time his French translator
Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican City
Undressing oneself and “pre-established ideas”, to look at reality. To replace the “dreams of greatness” of “superman priests”, with the dreams of “a whole Church at service” and of “a more fraternal and supportive world”. Abandoning any ambition of “self-affirmation” to put “God and the people” at the center of daily concerns, without being distracted by criticism and gossip that risk transforming even priests into “spinsters”. Pope Francis entrusts a precise mandate, which is none other than that – already expressed in the famous homily of the Chrism Mass of March 28, 2013 – to be “shepherds with the smell of sheep”, in the speech to the priests of the community of the Convitto San Luigi dei French. This is the college located in the complex of the well-known parish in the center of Rome, a reference point for the community beyond the Alps in Italy, which houses three works by Caravaggio.
Fraternity in a society marked by individualism
Precisely “your home, with its testimony of life – says the Pope in his speech, interspersed with several off-the-cuff passages, during the audience in the Apostolic Palace – can communicate to the people who frequent it the evangelical values of a varied fraternity – a nice fruit salad, huh? – and supportive, especially when someone goes through a difficult time ”.
In a society marked by individualism, by self-affirmation, by indifference, you have the experience of living together with its daily challenges.
The temptation to isolate oneself and criticize others
The challenges are not few in community life. For example, there is “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 also of priests who become spinsters: they go, talk, gossip… It doesn’t help. Forget it. Look and think of God’s mercy. And this undermines us all, and that’s not good ”, warns Pope Francis. His wish, which takes the form of a recommendation, is that “you may 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 we can breathe the air of joy and tenderness.
Look to St. Joseph, model of fidelity
To the priests of the French community, Francis indicates the figure of St. Joseph, in the year dedicated to him: “man of faith”, “tender father” and “model of fidelity and trusting abandonment to God’s plan”. Like him, it is necessary to put into practice acts of acceptance and gift of oneself and also to have the faith that God can work in frailties and weaknesses.
Do not leave frailties aside: they are a theological place. My fragility, of each of us: theological place of encounter with the Lord. Superman priests end badly, everyone. All. The frail priest, who knows his weaknesses and talks about them with the Lord, this will be fine.
“The priest – adds Pope Francis – is a man who, in the light of the Gospel, spreads the taste of God around him and transmits hope to restless hearts”.
Shepherds with the smell of sheep
“Taste” and “hope” to be transmitted also in the various Roman universities that the priests of the boarding school attend: those places are in fact, for the Pope, an opportunity to “better appreciate the reality in which you are called to announce the Gospel of joy”. However, he warns, “you do not go out into the field to apply the theories without taking into consideration the environment you are in, as well as the people you are entrusted with”.
I wish you 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.
In fact, Pope Francis says he is worried about seeing “reflections, thoughts on the priesthood, as if it were a laboratory thing: this priest, that other priest …”. No, he says off the cuff, “one cannot reflect on the priest 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 Catholic priesthood, no; and not even Christian “.
Stripping off dreams of grandeur and self-affirmation
“Strip yourself of yourselves, of your preconceived ideas, of your dreams of greatness, of your self-affirmation, to put God and people at the center of your daily concerns”, is the invitation of Pope Francis. To do this, one simply has to “be a shepherd”. “’No, I would like to be an intellectual only, not a pastor’. But, ask for the reduction to the lay state, it will do you better, and be an intellectual. But if you are a priest, be a shepherd. You will be a shepherd, in many ways of doing it, but always in the midst of God’s people. What Paul reminded his beloved disciple: ‘Remember your mother, your grandmother, from the people who taught you’. The Lord says to David: ‘I have chosen you from behind the flock’, from there “.
Apostles of joy, with a sense of humor
With this awareness, we must dream of “great horizons”, without being “afraid to dare, to risk, to go forward because you can do everything with Christ who gives you strength”.
With him you can be apostles of joy, cultivating in you the gratitude of being at the service of your brothers and of the Church
“And with joy – says the Pope – a sense of humor goes together. A priest who has no sense of humor, does not like it, something is wrong. Those great priests who laugh at others, at themselves and even at their own shadow: the sense of humor which is one of the characteristics of holiness, as I pointed out in the Encyclical on holiness “.
The Pope’s greeting to Father Landousies
A big thank you to Father Landousies
The Pope concludes his speech by expressing deep gratitude to Father Jean Landousies, for so long his French translator.
Today, before you entered, Father Landousies told me that at the end of June he will leave this office here, in the Curia: he has been my French translator for a long time. But I would like to make a summary of his person. It is an example. I found in him the testimony of a happy priest, of a consistent priest, a priest who was able to live with already beatified martyrs – whom he knew one by one – and also to live with an illness of which no one knew what. were, with the same peace, with the same testimony. And I take advantage of this publicly, even in front of the Osservatore Romano, to everyone, to thank him for the testimony, which has done me good many times. The way I was was good for me. He will go away, but he goes to carry out the ministry in Marseille, and he will do so much good with this capacity that he has to welcome everyone; but it leaves here the good smell of Christ, the good smell of a priest, of a good priest. So in front of you I say thank you, thank you for everything you have done.