THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON POPE FRANCIS
GOSSIPS, STILL AGAIN
Pope Francis speaks to seminarians. This is informative for
us, as we look to the next generation of clerics who will
be true pastors and servants.
Pope Francis, with keen insight into what causes conflicts
and disunity in a community, yet once again speaks against
gossip. He says, “Never, ever speak about others behind
their backs!” He of course is not talking about speaking
good things or neutral things (such as news) about others,
but about when you have something against them or do not agree
So in our community, what should we do? Pope Francis says,
tell them directly. Speak to them face to face. But that might
not be practical. Then you can tell someone in leadership
who can do something about it, but do so privately. Not in
your household. Not in the company of others.
Some justify talking negatively about others or their disagreement
with others by saying they only have the interest of the community
in mind. Well, as Pope Francis says, gossip is the scourge
of a community. It destroys others without their even knowing
they are being destroyed. When directed at leaders, it foments
unnecessary dissent, unjustified resentment and destructive
Satan is an expert at causing disunity, which then negatively
affects a community’s life and mission. Satan is “a
murderer from the beginning” (Jn 8:44). Pope Francis
says that gossip is murder. So where do you stand?
Pope to Seminarians: Be Fathers, Not Simply Graduates
In Q&A Session,
Francis Discusses Temptations and Challenges of Seminary Life
VATICAN CITY, May 13,
2014 ( Zenit.org) - Pope Francis has encouraged seminarians
training for the priesthood in Rome to study hard, avoid gossip,
and to return to their dioceses as fathers rather than simply
questions with an "open heart" from a large group
of seminarians from all over the world attending Rome's pontifical
colleges, the Pope addressed themes such as the priesthood,
temptations, and challenges of consecrated life.
Before he began the
meeting in the Paul VI hall on Monday, he addressed a special
message of closeness to the Christians of Ukraine and the
Middle East, emphasising that the Church still suffers greatly
today, in many parts of the world, as a result of persecution.
Holy Father spoke about the danger of “academicism”,
or rather the risk that seminarians return to their dioceses
simply as graduates rather than fathers, as priests, in response
to a question from an American seminarian. He mentioned the
four pillars of the formation of priests, which must be cultivated
so as not to fall into the trap of “academicism”:
spiritual, academic, communitarian and apostolic formation.
A seminarian from China asked about community life, to which
Pope Francis responded that it is impossible to prepare oneself
for the priesthood alone; it must take place within a community,
taking great care to overcome
the capital sins that may arise in relations with one's brethren.
ever speak about others behind their backs!” he said.
“If I have something against someone, or I do not agree
with them, I tell them directly. … Gossip is the scourge
of a community; one must always speak with someone face to
face, and pray for those with whom there are problems”.
he advised them to be patient, to study hard and to make the
most of all the opportunities offered them during their stay
outside their countries of origin. He also urged them to seek
calm through prayer and, in turbulent moments, to take refuge
under the mantle of the Mother of God. “Because a good
relationship with the Mother helps us to stay in good relations
with the Church”. The Pope added that there is only
one path to leadership in priestly life: service. “Service
means doing the will of others, over and over again. Reject
the path of money or vanity and be
a servant, armed with humility”.
A seminarian from Cameroon
asked how the various dimensions of the ministry can co-exist
in a balanced way, to which Pope Francis responded that it
was necessary to be vigilant, careful and organised. “The
ideal is to end the day tired. … But with a good tiredness,
not a reckless tiredness, that is harmful to your health over
time”. In response to another question on how one should
be a priest in view of the new evangelisation, the Pope commented
that it is important to reach out of oneself, and to be close
to the people. “A cordial closeness, a closeness of
love, but also a physical closeness”. He added that
the closeness of a pastor to his people can be measured by
the paying attention to his homilies. He admitted that “in
general, our homilies are not good – they are conferences
or lessons”, and he emphasised that boring homilies
on abstract subjects resemble school. “We are behind
in this respect”, he admitted; “it is one of the
points of conversion that the Church needs today: to improve
homilies so that people can understand better”.
Finally, the Pope responded
to a Polish seminarian who asked his advice on how to remain
willing and happy in service to the people of God. Francis
commented on the great importance of meeting with people,
with the bishop and with other priests, but without fear.
“Perhaps you have some inner reservations, but you must
never be afraid”, and he added that “one of the
treasures that you must cultivate is priestly friendship”.
Before taking his leave, the Pope encouraged the seminarians
to be “friends to all those whom the Lord places before
you”. “Priestly friendship is the strength of
perseverance, apostolic joy, courage, and also humour”.
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