Sad to see 'ivory tower' priests says Francis

Pope urges bishops to scrutinize aspiring priests

(ANSA) - Vatican City, October 21 - Pope Francis on Friday spoke out against self-centered priests and urged bishops to be discerning in the matter of priestly vocations. "It's sad when a priest lives only for himself, (within) the secure fortress of the rectory, the sacristy, or a restricted group of true believers," he said at a hearing for participants of a congress on pastoral vocation. "On the contrary, we are called on to be shepherds among the people... capable of taking the time to welcome and listen to everyone, especially the young," he said. The pontiff urged bishops to scrutinize aspiring Catholic priests or seminarians. "I beg you to be discerning in the matter of priestly vocations and seminary postulants," he said during the hearing. "Your gaze must be wary and cautious, without being light-handed or superficial. I say this especially to our brother bishops: vigilance and prudence". "The Church and the world need mature, balanced priests, of brave and generous pastors capable of closeness, of listening, and of mercy".
    The pontiff in particular called on priests to take their time to "get out", "see" and "call".
    He expressed the wish for a Church that is "in movement, able to broaden its borders, measuring them not on limited human calculations or on the fear of making a mistake but on the large scale of God's merciful heart".
    The pope also warned "pastors and pastoral operators who are in a rush, excessively concerned by the things that need to be done", saying that they "risk falling into an empty organizational activism, without being able to stop to meet people".
    Francis instead called on priests to be "careful" and able to enter into "someone else's life without ever making them feel threatened or judged".
    A priest should be able to "spark surprise for the Gospel" and awaken from "the torpor in which the culture of consumerism and of superficiality immerses us", sparking an "authentic quest for happiness, especially in the young".
    Earlier on Friday, the pontiff also said helping the young is "an investment for the future".
    "Hope for the future should never be stolen from the young", the pontiff said at a hearing with members of the St John Paul II Foundation for Life and Family.


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