News / Europe

Pope: Church Must Not Create Selfish 'Little Monster' Priests

Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of his mass at the Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in Rome, Jan. 3, 2014.
Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of his mass at the Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in Rome, Jan. 3, 2014.
Reuters
Pope Francis has said men studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood should be properly trained or the Church could risk "creating little monsters" more concerned with their careers than serving people.

In comments made in November but only published on Friday, Francis also said priests should leave their comfort zone and get out among people on the margins of society, otherwise they may turn into "abstract ideologists".

The Italian Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica published an exclusive text of the comments, made in a three-hour, closed-door meeting the Argentinian-born pontiff had in late November with heads of orders of priests from around the world.

"Formation [of future priests] is a work of art, not a police action. We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps," he said.

Since his election in 2013 as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, Francis has been prodding priests, nuns and bishops to think less about their careers in the Church and to listen more to the needs of ordinary Catholics, especially the poor.

Taking over an institution reeling from child sex abuse, financial and other scandals and losing members to other religions, Francis has tried to refocus on the basic Christian teachings of compassion, simplicity and humility.

His conversation with the members of the Union of Superiors General is important because they will transmit his wishes directly to priests in their religious orders around the world.

"No Hiding Place"

Francis said men should not enter the priesthood to seek a comfortable life or to rise up the clerical career ladder.

"The ghost to fight against is the image of religious life understood as an escape or hiding place in face of an 'external' difficult and complex world," he told them.

He made a brief, indirect reference to the sexual abuse crisis, saying a man who has been asked to leave one seminary should not be admitted to another easily. Francis said priests had to have "real contact with the poor" and other marginalized members of society.

"This is really very important to me: the need to become acquainted with reality by experience, to spend time walking on the periphery in order really to become acquainted with the reality and life experiences of people," he told them. "If this does not happen we then run the risk of being abstract ideologists or fundamentalists, which is not healthy."

The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics has set a new tone in the Vatican, rejecting the lush papal residence his predecessors used and opting for a small suite in a Vatican guest house, where he eats in the common dining hall.

Civilta Cattolica is the same periodical that ran a landmark interview with Francis in September in which he said the Church must shake off an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality and become more merciful.

Francis, known as the "slum bishop" in Argentina because of his work among the poor, said reaching out to marginalized people was "the most concrete way of imitating Jesus".

His own first visits after moving to the Vatican were to a jail for juveniles and to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa to pay tribute to impoverished immigrants who have died trying to get to Europe.

Francis has said several times since his election that he feels the Vatican is too self-centered and needs to change.

A committee of eight cardinals from around the world that he has appointed to advise him on how to reform the central Vatican administration, know as the Curia, is due to submit its recommendations in February.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid