(Vatican Radio) During his daylong visit on Sunday to Bologna in northern Italy, Pope Francis met priests, religious, seminarians and deacons in the city cathedral. He did not deliver a discourse but fielded two questions from them.
The diocesan priests asked the Pope how they could grow in evangelical brotherhood with their fellow priests. The Pope said they first need to have the sense of what he described as ‘diocesanità’ (Italian) or a sense of belonging to the body of priests along with their bishop. When a diocesan priest lacks this he becomes a loner and runs the risk of becoming ‘infertile’. In this regard, the Pope recalled the transparency of St. Paul who talked about things clearly without misleading and had the patience and tolerance for others.
Another trait of a diocesan priest is the figure of pastor among his people. Opposed to this, is the ‘clerical pastor’ like the Pharisees and Saducees of Jesus’time who live in their own world of theology, thoughts and dos and donts of the law. The Pope regretted that some priests transform their service into a syndicate office with rigid visiting hours.
Careerism and gossip
To help deepen their brotherhood with their fellow priests, Pope Francis particularly urged the diocesan priests to keep clear of two vices – careerism and gossip. He described priests who make a career of their priestly service a career, as ‘climbers’. He described gossip mongers as pests who create discord in the diocesan presbyterial community, defaming their brother priests.
The Pope also received a question from religious men and women asking him how to live the religious life with joy and hope without falling into the trap of the ‘psychology of survival’. The Pope said that the this pessimistic syndrome seeks security in money, contrary to the spirit of poverty. Religious life, the Pope said, gets corrupt through money, and added that security in religious life does not come from vocations or money but from the ‘other side’. Poverty, according to St. Ignatius of Loyola, is a mother that gives life, and a wall that defends us from worldliness, the Pope said. The Holy Father also told the religious of the need to touch the wounds of Christ in the suffering body of His people.