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Pope at Santa Marta: ‘Do You Pray for Your Priests . . . or Just Criticize Them?’

A Bishop’s ‘Proximity’

“Do you pray for your priests  . . . or just criticize them? Asked Pope Francis at the Mass at Casa Santa Marta on September 20, 2019.

Gossip, “slanders, stupid discussions” weaken the life of a priest, just as attachment to money,” warned the Pope in his homily. He reflected on the “proximities” of a Bishop, who is first of all “a man of proximity to God.” His “first duty” is to pray, said the Pontiff. That “gives him the strength, . . . the awareness of this gift — that we must not forget — which is the ministry.”

The Bishop is also a man “close to priests.” “You must love first the one who is closest, who are your priests and your deacons,” insisted the Pope. “It’s sad when a Bishop forgets those close to him. It’s sad to hear the complaints of priests, who tell you: ‘I called the Bishop; I needed a meeting to tell him something, and the secretary told me that everything is full for three months . . . ‘When a priest calls, the Bishop must return his call latest the following day, “because he has the right to know that he has a father.”

Pope Francis also warned priests against “divisions.” “The devil enters there to divide the Presbyterium,” “ideologies,” “antipathies.”

A Bishop is close to the People of God. “Don’t forget your people. Don’t forget your roots! . . . As Bishop and as priest, it’s necessary to be close to the People of God. When a Bishop detaches himself from the People of God, he ends up in an atmosphere of ideology, which has nothing to do with the ministry: he is not a minister, he is not a servant. He’s forgotten the gift — free — which was given to him.”

In conclusion, the Pontiff appealed to Christians to pray for Bishops and priests, “those who lead you on the road of salvation.” “Do you pray for your priests, for your parish priest, for your Vicar, or do you just criticize them? It’s necessary to pray for priests and for Bishops, so that all of us — the Pope is a Bishop — are able to protect this gift.”

About Anne Kurian

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