Pope Francis - Church Must Not Create "Selfish Little Monster Priests"
I don't think anyone disagrees with this. The only thing in question is how the church goes about "forming the heart of the priest".

By Philip Pullella
December 03


VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis has said men studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood should be properly trained or the Church could risk "creating little monsters" more concerned with their careers than serving people.

In comments made in November but only published on Friday, Francis also said priests should leave their comfort zone and get out among people on the margins of society, otherwise they may turn into "abstract ideologists".

The Italian Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica published an exclusive text of the comments, made in a three-hour, closed-door meeting the Argentinian-born pontiff had in late November with heads of orders of priests from around the world.

"Formation (of future priests) is a work of art, not a police action. We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mould the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps," he said.

Since his election in 2013 as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, Francis has been prodding priests, nuns and bishops to think less about their careers in the Church and to listen more to the needs of ordinary Catholics, especially the poor.

Taking over an institution reeling from child sex abuse, financial and other scandals and losing members to other religions, Francis has tried to refocus on the basic Christian teachings of compassion, simplicity and humility.

His conversation with the members of the Union of Superiors General is important because they will transmit his wishes directly to priests in their religious orders around the world.


Francis said men should not enter the priesthood to seek a comfortable life or to rise up the clerical career ladder.

"The ghost to fight against is the image of religious life understood as an escape or hiding place in face of an 'external' difficult and complex world," he told them.

He made a brief, indirect reference to the sexual abuse crisis, saying a man who has been asked to leave one seminary should not be admitted to another easily.

Francis said priests had to have "real contact with the poor" and other marginalized members of society.

"This is really very important to me: the need to become acquainted with reality by experience, to spend time walking on the periphery in order really to become acquainted with the reality and life-experiences of people," he told them.

"If this does not happen we then run the risk of being abstract ideologists or fundamentalists, which is not healthy."

The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics has set a new tone in the Vatican, rejecting the lush papal residence his predecessors used and opting for a small suite in a Vatican guest house, where he eats in the common dining hall.

Civilta Cattolica is the same periodical that ran a landmark interview with Francis in September in which he said the Church must shake off an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality and become more merciful.

Francis, known as the "slum bishop" in Argentina because of his work among the poor, said reaching out to marginalized people was "the most concrete way of imitating Jesus".

His own first visits after moving to the Vatican were to a jail for juveniles and to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa to pay tribute to impoverished immigrants who have died trying to get to Europe.

Francis has said several times since his election that he feels the Vatican is too self-centered and needs to change.

A committee of eight cardinals from around the world that he has appointed to advise him on how to reform the central Vatican administration, know as the Curia, is due to submit its recommendations in February.

(Editing by Gareth Jones)
I certainly agree with the Holy Father, and his comments are relevant to discussions we have had here about the importance of charity in the life of a Catholic.

Bl. Columba Marmion, before he became a Benedictine monk, was chaplain to a women's prison.  This ministry taught him a great deal and also helped to form him into the holy, wise man that he was.

Still, I must say, I find the little monsters . . . quite interesting!

I do like this idea.  My wife works in Manhattan and says that she sees the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal occasionally on the streets of New York just randomly talking to people.  They take the subway, sleep on the floor, shower with cold water and live in solidarity with the poor.  I can't see living this radically working for every diocesan priest but it is very inspiring to see.
(01-03-2014, 05:32 PM)Clare Brigid Wrote:

Another variation of the same information: 

from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/pope-franci...-1.2482933

Quote:Pope Francis has warned that priests can become "little monsters" if they aren't trained properly as seminarians, saying their time studying must be used to mold their hearts as well as their minds.

Pope Francis is Time's Person of the Year

The Vatican radical: James Carroll on Pope Francis

Francis also warned against accepting men for the priesthood who may have been implicated in sexual abuse or other problems, saying the protection of the Catholic faithful is most important.

The pontiff made the comments Nov. 29 during a closed-door meeting of 120 superiors of religious orders who gathered at the Vatican for their regular assembly. On Friday, the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica provided a report of the three-hour, informal question and answer session. The Vatican never provided a transcript of the meeting.

The magazine, which interviewed Francis last year, quoted the first Jesuit pope as telling the superiors he wants them to "wake up the world" with their work, particularly with the poor.

"Truly to understand reality we need to move away from the central position of calmness and peacefulness and direct ourselves to the peripheral areas," he said.

Francis, who headed the Jesuits' novice training program in his native Argentina in the 1970s, also warned the superiors of some of the failings of seminary training, or "formation," such as when would-be priests merely "grit their teeth, try not to make mistakes, follow the rules smiling a lot, just waiting for the day when they are told `Good, you have finished formation."

"This is hypocrisy that is the result of clericalism, which is one of the worst evils," Francis was quoted as saying, returning to the issue of clericalism — or a certain cronyism and careerism among the men of the cloth — that he has frequently criticized.

The training of priests, he said, must be a "work of art, not a police action."

"We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps," he was quoted as saying.

Francis has spoken on several occasions about life in religious orders — the good and the bad — and hasn't shied from offering his own personal experiences when speaking with groups of nuns and priests. The former Jorge Mario Bergoglio was only 36 when he was made superior of the Jesuits in Argentina in 1973, during a particularly turbulent time for the order in general and Argentina in particular.

In his remarks to the superiors, Francis flagged as a risk the "huge problem" of accepting into the seminary someone who has already been asked to leave another religious institute, and cited Pope Benedict XVI's tough line on priests who commit sexual abuse.

"I am not speaking about people who recognize that they are sinners: we are all sinners, but we are all not corrupt," Francis said. "Sinners are accepted, but not people who are corrupt."

The Civilta Cattolica report didn't elaborate on Francis' comments, or on how "huge" a problem this was. The priestly sexual abuse scandal has mostly concerned abusive priests who were transferred from parish to parish, not problem seminarians who were kicked out of one institute only to be picked up again by another.

He told the superiors that conflicts within religious communities are inevitable but that problems between religious orders and bishops in dioceses where orders operate must be worked out. Francis tasked the Vatican's department for religious congregations to revise a document on the relationship between religious communities and dioceses.

The interview was released on the same day that Francis celebrated Mass with some 350 of his Jesuit colleagues at the main Jesuit church in Rome to celebrate his recent decree naming the order's first recruit, Pierre Favre, a saint. During his homily, Francis told his fellow Jesuits to use mercy, not morality, when they preach.

"The temptation, that maybe many of us experience, and many other people have comes to mind; that of linking the proclamation of the Gospel with inquisitorial beatings of condemnation. No, the Gospel is preached gently, fraternally, with love," he said.
The Associated Press, 2014
Honestly, I like that Pope Francis is doing this. We could use more priests who actually experience the lives of the poor.
Perhaps he should hold up the Institute of Christ the King as a role model.  They rotate their priests through several apostolates which means some of them experience life in the poverty-stricken missions they run in Africa.  Their Chicago shrine is also located in an area that is not considered the most desirable section of the city to live in.
(01-03-2014, 08:29 PM)Akavit Wrote: Perhaps he should hold up the Institute of Christ the King as a role model.  They rotate their priests through several apostolates which means some of them experience life in the poverty-stricken missions they run in Africa.  Their Chicago shrine is also located in an area that is not considered the most desirable section of the city to live in.
Isn't that true of most traditional parishes?
I thought a priest's duty is to offer the sacraments to the people, give communion to shut-ins, teach catechism,etc.
(01-03-2014, 10:22 PM)JMartyr Wrote: I thought a priest's duty is to offer the sacraments to the people, give communion to shut-ins, teach catechism,etc.

Msgr. Bruno Gherardini wrote in his Vatican II: A Debate That Has Not Taken Place:

Quote:We must however say a few words concerning one aspect of the conciliar aggiornamento. This is particularly important to me because it is a part of the Tridentine tradition and because it is in conformity with the sacramental reality of the priest. It is of him that I wish now to speak.

As much in Lumen Gentium 28§1, that says textually: "The priests [...] are consecrated to preach the Gospel,” as in Presbyterorum Ordinis 13§2, which voluntarily places the ministry of the Word at the highest place in the priest’s functions, we see a clear modification of the Tridentine tradition, according to which the priest is ad conficiendam eucharistiam. He is, of course, destined to other finalities, but all are placed after that of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

But in the Vatican II texts, all that is not in relation to the ministry of the Word becomes secondary, forgetting the condition of the priest as a mystical continuation of Christ, and thus the Christic basis of sacrificer and glorifier of the Father, which reflects on the priest and forms his first characteristic.

Consequently, how can it be coherent to declare that such a radical overturning of the Tridentine tradition is also perfectly coherent with the preceding magisterium, and constitutes the material of infallible, irreformable and dogmatic validity? I candidly admit that I do not understand.

In reality, if a priest is truly living a life which is ad conficiendam eucharistiam then he is living his Mass beyond the actual liturgical prayer itself -- he is living a life of sacrifice, because that is the life of Christ, and he is an alter Christus. Thus any social work he does flows from the spiritual works ... just like Dom Chautard explains in Soul of the Apostolate (Neat how all that old "Trinitarian" theology seems to seamlessly work together)

In a materalistic world, it takes quite a shock to get people to understand sacrifice.

My great trouble is that what we are today trying to form is not this Tridentine priest, but the Vatican II notion of the priest -- a man consecrated to preach the Gospel -- is what we are pursuing, then the priest is no more than a religious social worker, with perhaps a sacramental side.

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