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Avoid fast cars and ride a bike instead, Pope tells trainee priests and nuns

By on Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Pope Francis addresses seminarians and future priests and nuns during  Mass in St Peter's Basilica (Photo: CNS)

Pope Francis addresses seminarians and future priests and nuns during Mass in St Peter's Basilica (Photo: CNS)

Be joyous and loving while resisting fly-by-night commitments, catty gossip and fast cars, Pope Francis told future priests, brothers and nuns.

The Pope was speaking on Saturday to more than 6,000 seminarians and men and women from 66 nations who are considering religious life. They were in Rome for four-day pilgrimage as part of The Year of Faith celebrations.

The informal audience with Pope Francis was held on Saturday with a papal Mass the following morning. During the audience which lasted about 45 minutes, Pope Francis told a packed hall that vocations don’t come from catchy campaigns or pursuing personal goals. The consecrated life is the result of prayer and answering an “unsettling” yet loving invitation from God, he explained.

Some of the greatest dangers standing in the way of a happy religious life are materialism and a culture that believes nothing is forever, he said. The Pontiff went on to say that religious men and women have to avoid the temptation of thinking “the latest smartphone, the fastest moped and a car that turns heads” will make them happy.

Pope Francis revealed that it pains him when he sees a nun or priest driving an expensive car, and he praised the beauty of the bicycle, noting his 54-year-old personal secretary, Msgr Alfred Xuereb, gets around on a bike.

However, he admitted that with work to be done and distances to be covered, cars are a necessity. Just “get a humbler one,” he said, before adding that if the flashier model still looks tempting, “think about how many children are dying of hunger”.

True joy doesn’t come from “living on the edge” and having wild, fleeting experiences, he continued.

“It springs from an encounter, a relation with others, it comes from feeling accepted, understood and loved, and from accepting, understanding and loving others. Don’t be afraid of showing the joy of having answered the Lord’s call and of giving witness to his Gospel in service to the church.”

The Pope also highlighted the importance of living as a community and avoiding petty gossip and rivalries. He said he was guilty and ashamed of being caught up in gossip and complaining. He added that he preferred speaking directly to the people he has a problem with or with someone who can resolve the issue, never talking behind people’s backs “to smear them.”

During Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis used his homily to offer additional encouragement and wisdom for a happy vocation.

“The paschal mystery” of death and resurrection help shelter religious men and women “from a worldly and triumphalistic view” of their mission and “from the discouragement that can result from trials and failures,” he said.

The Pope implored the congregation to never see one’s vocation as a job. It’s a relationship with God that requires constant cultivation, being united with Christ, especially “amid the whirlwind of more urgent and heavy duties,” he explained.

“What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life.”

  • Sara_TMS_again

    You should change that title, which is misleading. There were more trainee religious sisters than trainee priests in that hall, and they were all mixed up together. Unless you know something I don’t about Francis’ intentions on women priests?

  • Benedict Carter

    Can they be taught the authentic Catholic Faith before they buy their bikes for goodness sake?!!!

  • The Catholic Herald

    Thanks for pointing this out Sara – the headline has been updated

  • Sara_TMS_again


  • Sara_TMS_again

    Yes, he mentioned spiritual formation and intellectual formation, but I would have thought doctrinal formation might have merited a mention on its own. Maybe he thinks that should be fully assessed before they enter in the first place?

  • Benedict Carter

    Rome doesn’t care about doctrine anymore.

  • John

    Sara, doctrinal formation is covered by both spiritual and intellectual formation. The pope is referring to two of the four pillars in the formation of clerics. He’s using language that isn’t much known to those not involved in seminary work.

  • laudator temporis acti

    As part of his office the Pope has to deliver many speeches and addresses, not all of which are going to be top-drawer or particularly worth reporting elsewhere. Maybe
    websites like this one could be more selective in what they report? That might deter the rent-a-Catholics who post their opinions on every subject on the sun from thinking they have to dissect even poor Francis’ trivial obiter dicta as a means of demonstrating by contrast their own impeccable Catholic orthodoxy. Wouldn’t that be a ref lief?!!!

  • laudator temporis acti

    last word should have been relief!

  • John

    You think calumny like that serves the Body of Christ? It doesn’t. Listen to the Holy Father, start praying, and shut up.

  • Guest

    You think it should read “What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of relief.” !?!

  • laudator temporis acti

    Does that make any sense to you? I meant the last word of my previous message!!

  • bosco49

    Ok, Benedict. I understand your point and I find myself agreeing with you much of the time. However lest you (as the Americans are wont to say) ‘bust a gut’ get hold of a brown paper bag and inhale/exhale about 10 + times. You’ll feel better and we’ll still love you.
    It’s all in God’s hands in any event. We ought not pay over much attention to the wind and the waves.

  • Jon Brownridge

    This Pope’s focus is on the pastoral, not the doctrinal. And surely that is how it should be.

  • Jon Brownridge

    There is an intrinsic difference between religious life and secular priesthood. All religious have a vow of poverty and are obligated to the spirit of poverty. Secular clergy have no such vow and they can buy whatever they can afford. However, all priests are expected to avoid unseemly luxuries.

  • Benedict Carter

    Calumny?! It’s completely accurate.

    Dissidents aren’t disciplined. Heretics aren’t disciplined. Heterodox theologians are praised. The faithful have been left at the mercy of the wolves for at least fifty years.

    Archbishops say publicly that, on so DOmY, “We will have to see what comes down the road” as far as teaching is concerned.

    Of course today’s Rome doesn’t care about doctrine. One is simply astonished that even with the experience of the past fifty years, there are Catholics who still believe that Rome does care!

  • paulpriest

    Loss of faith, identity and purpose…they loom over a Priest’s head like a sword of Damocles…

    Believing it’s true – knowing it’s true – and a priest can face anything thrown at him..every sorrow, every cruelty, every loneliness, every incomprehensibility, every recognition of frailty and limitation…

    With that mustard seed of faith; hope and love can flow in abundance….

  • Ziggy Ding Dong

    It goes without saying that I love Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI!

    I beg the question, though: Where did Pope Francis get the idea that priests drive round in fast cars?

    Priests need to be ”fast” as is legally possible because they need to answer sick calls, administer the sacraments and go from one church building within the parish to another in time to celebrate Holy Mass.

    Or… did something get lost in translation and that he actually meant ‘posh’ cars?

    The only time I heard of a priest having a trendy motor was around 40 years ago, when the curate drove round to visit his flock in a pale green Volkswagen Beetle! As a kid, I was fascinated with it.

    Since then, priests I’ve got to know (even those whose parishes serve the money’ed, Cheshire Set) don’t have Maseratis, Ferraris or 4X4s!
    Not all priests are Bradley Wiggins, though, when it comes to bikes. If they can ride one, fair enough…

  • lawrence

    For sure the Holy Father was sent by God.This is the model Pope the world has ever got.
    His words are down to the earth.
    I do urge the whole Catholics in the world just to always pray for this great servant of GOD.

  • lawrence

    The Holy Father is a great Pontiff the world has ever received because his words are down to the earth.I do request the whole Catholics around the globe to continue praying for our Holy Father to lead the church of Christ very well.

  • Jon Brownridge

    To avoid confusion, you need to look up what it means ‘to beg the question’.

  • Ziggy Ding Dong

    I was begging.

  • bluesuede

    What a beautiul speech.

  • bluesuede

    Well said.

  • QueenTiye

    “The Father rather desires that you draw out your heart to the hungry, and that you minister to the afflicted souls; then shall your light shine in obscurity, and even your darkness shall be as the noonday.” ~ Urantia Book, (147:8.4)

  • Knight John

    Jesus Walked.

  • Tridentinus

    Priests have to be trained, religious whether male or female do not.

  • Sara_TMS_again

    Yes, they do! Novitiates are canonically mandatory.

  • Tridentinus

    The novitiate is a period where a would be religious lives with the Community to sample the religious life and for the Community to judge whether the novice is a suitable candidate. Of course novices receive formation in the spiritual life and the history of their Order.

    The training proper is for candidates for the priesthood in the disciplines of philosophy and theology in liturgy etc.

  • Sara_TMS_again

    Obviously the main lines of training for priests are laid down for all, and have to include certain things proper to the priesthood, whereas different religious institutes have a lot more freedom to vary their training according to their own norms, but it’s still canonically mandatory.

    I don’t know, but I guess the sisters present on that occasion would all have been in temporary vows (which in most institutes is still a period of formal training).

  • Khal Spencer

    Spot on, Your Holiness!

  • Poncho

    Because bicycles weren’t invented yet. Duh…

  • Velomobile1

    I am car free and ride to Mass via my “bike”.

  • Debbie

    No, but they did have other modes of transportation….Duh…..

  • joe kurmaskie

    Love this Pope – But for the record – You CAN cover distances by bicycle. I pedaled my family the length of the continent and back. Many times the bicycle is faster than the car for urban travel. And a large percentage of trips by cars are 3 miles or less.

  • Mike

    Joe, Love your books. i.e Momentum….I did Bikecentennial 1976. Yes this Pope has the right idea.

  • @catholicpeteruk

    Like a donkey..? Which of course he never rode..?

  • benji

    youre actually arguing about this?

  • Amponsem

    God bless you Pope Francis

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