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Pope encourages Roman priests to show 'courageous creativity'

September 17, 2013

During a September 16 meeting with the priests of the Rome diocese, Pope Francis said that the Church can overcome the impact of scandals because “holiness is greater than scandal.”

In fact, the Holy Father told the clergy of Rome, “the Church has never been in better shape, and is experiencing a very positive moment.” He cited the work of St. Teresa of Calcutta, acknowledged as a saint even by the secular world; but he also mentioned the quiet perseverance of many Catholics striving for holiness in the ordinary world.

The Pope spoke with the priests of Rome during an annual meeting, held at the basilica of St. John Lateran. A summary of the Pope’s informal remarks was made public by the Vatican press office the following day.

Pope Francis opened his remarks by telling the clergy that “he considered himself above all to be a priest.” He said that he hopes always to continue thinking of himself in that way. “I would be afraid of feeling a bit more important,” he said. “I am afraid of that, because the devil is cunning.”

A conscientious priest works very hard, the Pope said, but his work is spiritually and emotionally satisfying. “When a priest is in contact with his people, he works, but he sleeps well.” He acknowledged that priestly ministry can also be draining, and advised priests to “seek the affinity of other priests, and most importantly, bishops” as a source of support and strength.

The Pope encouraged his priests to display “courageous creativity.” In this context, he explained, “creativity” does not mean teaching new ideas; it means finding new means of presenting old truths, and new ways of helping people in need. He warned against becoming overly severe on one hand or lax on the other. The proper balance, he said, is struck by priests who proclaim God’s law clearly, “but always accompanied by God’s love and patience.”

One specific problem that the Pontiff addressed was the status of Catholics who have divorced and remarried. He asked priests to remain close to those people, providing them with pastoral support. Their concerns, he said, “cannot be reduced merely to a matter of who can receive Communion or not.” The Church needs to find ways to address the problem of divorced Catholics, he said, observing that the question will be addressed when he meets in October with the commission of eight cardinals created to advise him.


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  • Posted by: Niklas - Sep. 18, 2013 9:52 AM ET USA

    “The Church has never been in better shape" - This is simply not true. Vocations in most religious communities are down by 90-99%. 90% of American Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence. Parishes are being closed everywhere. There is a sex-abuse crisis in the priesthood. Nearly all bishops are infected by modernism. Catholics have long abandoned the Church's teaching in moral matters such as contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. This is a really weird statement.