Priests should spend more time acknowledging their sins than boasting of their record of service to the Church, Pope Francis said at Mass this morning.
In his homily in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Pope said no one should pretend they are sinless.
Commenting on the day’s reading from St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, he said: “Paul has spoken many times – it’s like a refrain, no? – of his sins. ‘But I tell you this: I’ve been a persecutor of the Church, I pursued…’ it always comes back to his memory of sin. He feels sinful. But even then he does not say: ‘I was [a sinner], but now I am holy’, no. Even now, a thorn of Satan is in my flesh. He shows us his own weakness, his own sin. He is a sinner who accepts Jesus Christ, who dialogues with Jesus Christ.”
According to Vatican Radio, he continued: “This is the model of humility for us priests – for us priests, too. If we only pride ourselves on our [record of service] and nothing more, we end up [going] wrong. We cannot proclaim Jesus Christ the Saviour because we do not feel Him deep down. We have to be humble, but with real humility: ‘I am a sinner for this, for this, for this’, as Paul did: ‘I persecuted the Church’, as he did, [recognising ourselves] concrete sinners: not sinners with that [kind of] humility, which seems more a put-on face, no? Oh no, strong humility. ”
He added: “Brothers, we have a treasure: that of Jesus Christ the Saviour. The Cross of Jesus Christ, this treasure of which we pride ourselves – but we have it in a clay vessel. Let us vaunt also our ‘handbook’ of our sins. Thus is the dialogue Christian and Catholic: concrete, because the salvation of Jesus Christ is concrete. Jesus Christ has not saved us with an idea, an intellectual programme, no. He saved with His flesh, with the concreteness of flesh. He is lowered, made man, made flesh until the end. This is a gift that we can only understand, only receive, in earthen vessels. ”
Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, concelebrated the Mass with the Pope.