ROME – Addressing the nine new priests he ordained on Sunday, Pope Francis called them to be “priests of the people, not clerics of the state,” and to not be tempted by the vanity that comes from money.
“This is what [God] wants from you: shepherds,” Francis said. “Shepherds of God’s holy and faithful people. Shepherds who go with the people of God, walking in front, in the midst and behind the flock, but always there, with the people of God.”
The pope highlighted to the nine new priests that they have not began an “ecclesiastical career,” because the priesthood is not a career but a “service.”
Francis rooted most of his homily on what he called the “four types of closeness” a priest is called to have throughout his service: Closeness to God, to his bishop, to other priests, and second only to the closeness to God, is that to the flock.
A priest is close to God in prayer and celebrating the sacrament of the Mass. They’re called to “speak with the Lord,” who “became close to us in his son,” and who has been close to each of the new priests “through out your life’s journey, up to this moment, even in the ugly moments of sin.”
Secondly, Francis said, priests are “collaborators” though not “servants” of the bishop, and they’re called to be close to them, as a son would be his father, even if they don’t like or necessarily agree with everything the bishop does.
Speaking about closeness amongst priests, the pontiff said they’re not to spread rumors about one another or talk behind each other’s back. Instead, he said, “you have something against another [priest] be a man. You have your pants on, go to them, speak up. Never, never, never, speak evil behind their back.”
“After God, the closest closeness is with God’s holy faithful people,” Francis said, noting that despite the years in seminary studying the ecclesiastical sciences required by the Church for ordination, “none of you studied to become a priest.
“You were chosen. Chosen from the people of God. The Lord said to David, ‘I have chosen you from the midst of the people’. Your people, your family. Be priests of the people, not clerics of the state,” the pope told the new priests, most of whom hail from Italy, but there’s also one from Colombia, one from Brazil and one from Romania.
Francis also asked the new priests to be tender and compassionate, and to “waste their time” listening and consoling the faithful, being merciful and forgiving, because “God never tires of forgiving, and we cannot tire of asking for forgiveness.”
“Please, stay away from the vanity and from pride that come from money,” he said towards the end. “The devil enters through your pockets. Think about this. Be poor, as God’s holy and faithful people are poor. Be poor who love the poor. Do not be careerists in the ecclesiastical career, because you become functionaries. And when the priest becomes an entrepreneur, he loses that closeness to the people, that poverty that makes him close to the people, and he becomes an entrepreneurial priest and not a servant.”
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