Pope: bishops and priests must listen humbly and learn
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis today urged bishops, priests and deacons always to be humble and to recognize that their ministry is an unmerited gift of God’s mercy.
Speaking at the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said the Lord continues to shepherd his flock with love through the ordained ministry of bishops, priests and deacons.
Recalling the Pastoral Epistles the Apostle Paul sent to his disciples Timothy and Titus in which he highlights human qualities such as the capacity to be welcoming, sober, patient, meek, reliable and good of heart as absolute necessities as well, of course, as the gifts of faith and holiness for those who receive the gift of vocation.
No bishop, priest or deacon – the Pope said – must assume an authoritarian attitude, and behave as if his community were his own property and personal reign.
The acknowledgment – he continued – that his ministry is a gift and a grace, helps a pastor never to fall into the temptation of putting himself at the center of attention or of relying only upon himself, Francis said.
A bishop, priest or deacon must never assume that he knows all, always has the right answer and never has to ask for help. To the contrary – the Pope said – he must always be humble and understanding towards others, he must listen to his people and be aware that he always has something to learn, even from those who may still be far from faith and from the Church.
Let us thank the Lord – Pope Francis concluded – for this ministry in the Church, and pray that our ordained ministers may always be sustained in their efforts to be living icons of the Father’s loving concern for all his children.
Please find below the English synopsis of the Pope’s catechesis:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Church, we have seen that the Lord continues to shepherd his flock with love through the ordained ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. Today we consider the qualities demanded of these ministers in their service to Christ and the Church. In addition to the essential gifts of firm faith and holiness, Saint Paul lists such human qualities as kindness, gentleness, patience, prudence and attentive concern for others. These gifts too are required for the exercise of spiritual leadership. In a special way, Paul urges the Church’s ordained ministers to rekindle constantly the gift of God which they have received. For it is only by acknowledging that their ministry is an unmerited gift of God’s mercy that bishops, priests and deacons can serve their brothers and sisters with humility, generosity, wisdom and compassion, and thus build up the Church’s communion in faith and love. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of this threefold ministry in the Church, and pray that our ordained ministers may always be sustained in their efforts to be living icons of the Father’s loving concern for all his children.