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‘Sanctity is stronger than scandals,’ says Pope Francis

By on Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Pope Francis is greeted by priests of the Diocese of Rome at the Basilica of St John Lateran (CNS)

Pope Francis is greeted by priests of the Diocese of Rome at the Basilica of St John Lateran (CNS)

Acting in his capacity as bishop of Rome, Pope Francis has offered words of encouragement to his diocesan priests, urging them to keep their vocations alive through their love of God.

The Pope was speaking on Monday at a meeting with diocesan clergy in the Basilica of St John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome.

Pope Francis devoted the first part of the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, to answering a letter he had received a few days earlier from an elderly parish priest, writing of his struggles as a pastor.

“The letter is beautiful, I was moved,” the Pope said, speaking without a text. “The letter is simple. The priest is mature and he shared with me one of his feelings: fatigue.”

While voicing sympathy, the Pope said that such an experience is an inevitable part of priestly life. “When a priest is in contact with his people, he gets tired,” he explained, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

“When a priest is not in contact with his people, he gets tired, but in a bad way, and to fall asleep he needs to take a pill. The people have so many demands, so many demands, but they are the demands of God. That makes one seriously tired, right? And one doesn’t need pills.”

The Pope reassured the priests that the Church continued to produce saints, some of them widely recognised, such as Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, and many others unheralded. He pointed to the example of an Argentine woman who had recently written him a letter on a paper napkin, recounting her efforts to support a drug-addicted son with her job as a cleaner in the Buenos Aires airport.

“I dare to say that the Church has never been so well as it is today,” he said, in spite of scandals such as that over clergy sex abuse.

“The Church will not collapse, I am sure, I am sure. Sanctity is stronger than scandals.”

Pope Francis also took questions from five of the priests in the audience, who asked him about specific pastoral challenges.

As he has done on other occasions, Pope Francis urged priests to make their churches more welcoming, suggesting, among other ideas, that marriage courses for engaged couples be scheduled at more convenient times.

According to the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the Pope urged the priests to keep alive the memory of the beginning of their vocations, born in the love of Jesus, as an antidote to what he called “spiritual worldliness.”

In an 11-page document that he assigned the priests to read before the meeting, Pope Francis defined spiritual worldliness as an “anthropocentric attitude” which aims at human spiritual perfection “instead of the glory of God”. This temptation, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote in 2008, is “infinitely more devastating” to the Church than “simply moral worldliness,” such as that exemplified by libertine popes in the past.

  • Hermit Crab

    May we suppose that the Holy Father would accuse the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate of “spiritual worldliness”?

    And that he would regard their sins as being “infinitely more devastating” to the Church than those of “the libertine popes in the past”? Or by implication, infinitely more devastating than those of priests and bishops involved in the sexual abuse scandals of the present, serious as these are?

  • NatOns

    No, HC, or at least not quite.

    ‘Andrew Motyka urges traditionalists to tackle what he calls their “reputation problem“.’

    That reputation problem is not a mere failure in PR exercise, it requires a fundamental shift of priorities .. if we who are labelled ‘Trads’ (and rejoice in Sacred Tradition) are to witness Christ as the Holy Father (rightly) perceives it in Blessed Teresa of Calcutta – through all her trials, spiritual dark-nights and manifold human complexities: that is, simply, with humility, and in self-sacrificing ministry.

    http://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2013/sep/11/if-shoe-fits/

    ‘One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed with online Trads is that of tone.’

  • Dave

    That is also very good advice for those of us who are not ‘Trads’.

  • NatOns

    All Catholics are Trads, Dave, one way or another – that is the very essence of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church .. some rejoice in the fact, some despise it, but none can escape it – without rejecting its divinely knitted being: Christ Himself, in His one body with one Spirit! ;o)

    http://vimeo.com/58932795

    Rock Around The Clock, dude, ring-a-ding! It’s Trad, Dad, yip! like seriously, even if it’s Just For Fun or in What A Crazy World, so enjoy it .. for what today takes as permanent will soon be past, like my own jivin’, jazzin’, twistin’ ‘n’ shoutin’, shake-rattle-and-rollin’, G.I. Blues-in, can’t-buy-me-lovin’, hully gullyin’, mashed poato-in’, hippy, hippy shakin’, my-generation-in’ ever and a day, so soon over, joy of youth – and why ‘Judica Me, Deus, Et Discerna Causam Meam’ Ps 42 (43) is still so important to the health of the soul as an apt introduction to the eternal Truth of the Mass, true even when all else changes or fails or dies around it. Here endeth the first Lesson …

  • phil

    hallo natons. i also consider myself as a traditionalist of sorts. i was wondering what your name natons stands for. is it your real name? i don’t think it is. it is not as real as my new friend barry’s name. would you like to talk to me about barry?

  • Christ is King

    What are you then?

    “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

  • revolting ewe

    I really don’t understand where the bishop of Rome is coming from with this. It seems to be a bit self contradictory. In one breath he is saying we shouldn’t be anthropocentric and at the same time he is implying that liberalism is not a big problem. I would have thought it is exactly liberalism which leads to being anthropocentric. I also fail to understand why there always seems to be some idea that “Trads” are so busy worrying about liturgy that they don’t have time to be charitable. Why on earth can’t we have both? Why the constant theme of setting up these 2 aspects of faith against each other when they are totally compatible?

  • Chris

    This Pope sure can Pope! He is so smart in Christ ways! When he defines “anthropocentric attitude” he is teaching the lesson of this Sunday’s Gospel according to Luke. And his message for priest works for all people. As we read and understand Luke’s Gospel this weekend we will see Christ echoing the works of our Pope in this article. The unjust servant knew how to be anthropocentric. He knew how to look after his earthy future and not live on the earthy streets after he was caught doing wrong by his employer. He cut deals while he had the authority to do so to make friends who would look after him once his audit report was turned in and he was fired from his job by his master. His master seeing what he had done gave him credit for his prudence in looking out for himself. But Christ’s point was the Pope’s point. The good priest should not allow themselves to be outdone by the wicked, unjust servants of the world in providing for what is needed for good people to get to heaven and not the streets of hell. Even if they are tired they must do better for the good people. The unjust servants of the world know how to prudently look out for their interests in obtaining power, money and fun. So the just priest and lay people need to out do the wicked, unjust stewards in prudently obtaining their interest of getting to heaven for the good people of the world! “Sanctity is stronger than scandals”

  • Guest

    I find the wording of the last paragraph troubling. “Simple moral worldliness”, which is exemplified here by libertinism, is sin, which harms the soul. Clergy and laity should be warned unequivocally to avoid it.

    What doth it profit a man if he cause “infinitely less devastation to the Church” (however that is proved) than “spiritual worldliness” (whatever that may mean) – and lose his own soul?

  • Hermit Crab

    Can anyone make any sense out of the statement: “Pope Francis defined spiritual worldliness as an anthropocentric attitude which aims at human spiritual perfection instead of the glory of God” ?

    Through Grace, saints are led to spiritual Perfection, and hence to the Glory of God. The phrase “human spiritual perfection” is an oxymoron.

  • An onlooker

    The pope seems to me to be highlighting the less obvious sins, the ones that we might fail to recognise as wrong at all. We can easily drift into focussing on the sins we are unlikely to commit and congratulating ourselves for our moral rectitude while blindly doing things which are much worse. It seems entirely right that he should warn us about the devastating effects of moral blindness and the resultant complacency.

  • phil

    hallo. i am just plain old phil. nothing strange at all.

  • Christ is King

    Not the new ‘phil’ then. Not the ‘joker’ or the other one then. Who is ‘plain old phil’ then? What precisely is your interest in the Catholic Church that brings you here?

  • phil

    hallo. why are you so confrontational. why must i tell you all these things. i know of no new phil or any joker. i came here in the wake of my old friend julian. you might know him by his alter ego jabbapapa. now tell me who you are. maybe i already know you. do you wish to talk about my new friend barry.

  • Christ is King

    I am Christian. I know you don’t know ‘new phil’ or ‘joker’, that is fine. I’ll ask Julian about you later, but I am just a little curious about your posts, and in Jesus Christ’s name asking what your interest is in the Catholic Church? What about your friend barry do you want to talk about?

  • phil

    hallo christian. look into my innocent eyes. do you really think i am here for any other reason than an immaculate interest in the one true faith. julian called me so many times on this site so i just had to come. you must have noticed that as well. barry on the other hand. what is his interest here. he is an unbeliever. he likes beethoven and has some sort of trouble in his relationship with his parents. what more do you wish to know about barry.

  • Christ is King

    Barry sounds like a good man. Since I do not know him, I would not know what more to ask about him. Since you told me this, do you want me then to pray for him ? And what is this ‘had to come’? In the name of Jesus Christ, are you subject to Julian’s commands? That is an most peculiar friendship.

    Since you acknowledge the One True Faith, then in Christ’s name, pray with me:
    “Saint Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
    and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host-
    by the Divine Power of God-
    cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
    who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
    Amen.”

  • Agnus

    My attention drifted after the first few lines of the article! We’ll be given explicit details of how much milk he likes on his cornflakes next.

    Come on Holy Father! Sort the much edited Novus Ordo Missal out quickly. The world has suffered enough through all the bits condemning Homosexuality and the threats to the eternal soul of hellfire being edited out of the texts since 1970.

    What a MESS this “feel good” Catholicism has caused. Perhaps When we preach the WHOLE faith, and the people in the pews hear the COMPLETE Gospel, psalm etc…. then the morality of the world will return to what it USED to be prior to that semi-Missal being published. I’m sick and tired of being told there are NO New Testament references to Homosexuality being a sin in the Bible. THERE are at least 7! They just aren’t in the Missal.
    HOLY FATHER SORT IT OUT PLEASE!!! and put the chastising parts of the Psalms back in as well – all these edited “cheerful” psalms in the Missal are saying is how pleased God is with us. We need to hear the TRUTH!
    I don’t think I’m presumptuous to hazard a guess that Our Lord must be absolutely FURIOUS with somebody about this sacrilege.

  • James M

    “human spiritual perfection” = the spiritual perfection proper to human beings, rather than to angels ? The emphasis being on the word “human”. Apparently not. Quite how there can be “human spiritual perfection” without union with God, is for the Pope to explain, for the idea is meaningless – “human spiritual perfection”, if a reality at all, shows forth the Glory of God.

  • James M

    “…and put the chastising parts of the Psalms back in as well”

    ## Yes, and all the gloomy parts about repentance and sin and punishment and judgement & the Wrath of God as well. The Wrath of God is a prominent NT theme – but I would bet almost anything that not a single priest has preached on it for 40 years. The Novus Ordo’s Bible is a Bible with the “nasty” bits left out – IOW, a Bible that censors God’s Word so that man doesn’t object. *Not* a good idea. Unless one is trying to cause apostasy on a Mass-ive scale, that is. Q. E. D.

    The Church doesn’t have to preach Hellfire & brimstone, or the notion that hardly anyone will be saved, but the post-V2 reaction to excesses that type of preaching went too far. These days, apparently, everyone is so good and full of human dignity & goodwill that people never sin, so of course they aren’t going to Hell – & God is far too kind to damn anyone anyway. Eugh ! I blame J23 & his humanistic balderdash about “men of goodwill” (like that delightful Mr Khruschev) for the floodtide of nonsense & triviality that now threatens to overwhelm the Church. If the Church is the “I Love Me, And I’m Wild About Myself” Society, the sooner it turns turtle and sinks w/o trace, the better.

  • aspiring lay capuchin

    Its the opposite. Scandals show that the sanctity is GETTING LESS!

  • luisantonio

    Please, please, enlighten us about the in-depth story of the FFI…!

  • luisantonio

    Good God! Byzantine ‘reasoning’ at its best!

  • Hermit Crab

    You may well know more about it than I do. My information is no more than is easily found on the internet.

  • christian analyst

    Agreed. This Pope sometimes has things backwards! His gestures are impressive. His statements less so. The priests have corrupted their own priesthood. Their bosses the bishops/chief priests have protected them. The beast 6666 has entered the priesthood now with all the filth and the vile. The sanctity is less due to the collective misbehaviour of the priests and their protective bishops. IT is the lax bishops that allowed the churches to be compromised. The priests should have been handed over for criminal prosecution and their cover-up bishops should have been subject to early retirement

  • christian analyst

    This Pope is also shying away from drastic action. he should do as I mentioned above. when questioned about the gay culture he is on record as saying that he is “so disorganised to do anything about it” Meaning the problem is so prevalent and perbicious that if he did anything about it, he would be killed/poisoned. So he let things be! To me his statements are one of a dodger and a coward but he might be an intelligent man tackling only issues where he has the winning hand.