Pope Francis gave priests a homily at today’s Chrism Mass that could only come from a fellow pastor of souls who is also a pope.
The Chrism Mass is the annual mass at which the holy oils are blessed. These oils are used to anoint priests when they take their vows, as well as the laity during several sacraments.
Pastoring God’s people is a difficult task. Ministry to people of any sort is always difficult, because it requires the minster to empty themselves and to go beyond themselves into the other person’s needs. Every mother knows this to her core.
The priesthood is, in this way, a kind of parenthood, and like all parenthood, it is the end of me first and the beginning of living for God by living for and loving others.
A good priest is God’s instrument. God can and does reach right through him and into the hearts of His people. This is an awesome responsibility, to speak for God to hurting people.
Priests need our prayers, and sometimes, they need our forgiveness, as well.
Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 elderly and disable people today, including the feet of a Muslim and — gasp! — a woman.
I love our loving pope.
Gossip that demeans someone and makes them an outsider in their community is, as the Holy Father says, a form of social murder. When it occurs in a church, it kills a person’s relationships and place in the community of Christ. It isolates, alienates and sets them apart from other believers.
It can drive people out of their parish or even out of the Church. In extreme cases, it can maim their relationship with God.
Gossip is not the same thing as venting to a spouse or someone equally close. Gossip is talking to this one and that one and everyone who will lend an ear, cutting a person down and creating a wedge between that person and their fellows. When that happens, it goes beyond venting and becomes a weapon used to punish a person.
Oftentimes, gossip is a cowardly way to attack someone else when they haven’t done anything wrong, not even to the person who spreads the gossip.
Perhaps the most damaging gossip in a Catholic parish would be gossip that comes from the priest. Priests carry great authority. Their office embues them with a charisma that they would never have as a lawyer or a dentist.
Catholics place their priests on pedestals. They honestly believe that the priest is closer to God and has a higher knowledge of right, wrong, and what God desires than other people. They think their priests are holy. They trust their priests deeply. I’ve seen people go to their pastor for comfort like small children fleeing to their mothers more times than I can count.
A priest who gossips critically about a parishioner to other parishioners can destroy that person’s ability to live out their walk with Christ in that parish. A priest who gossips about a parishioner to other priests can spread that disability throughout a diocese.
Gossip wounds people. It destroys relationships. When it happens in churches, it can scapegoat and forever damage a person’s ability to be part of that community.
In a touching comment, the Holy Father said that he felt “called to personally take on the evil which some priests … have done.”
Although this is not as widely reported, Pope Francis also said that every child has a right to grow up in a family with “a mother and a father,” and called for protections for the right of parents “to decide the moral religious education of their children,” and for an end to “educational experimentation with children and young people,” pushing “a dictatorship of one form of thinking” on them “in the name of a pretended “modernity.”
From Vatican Radio:
(Vatican Radio) “I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children.
The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children”.This was Pope Francis’ clear message to members of BICE [International Catholic Child Bureau] whom he received Friday in audience at the Vatican. Emer McCarthy reports Listen:
BICE is a Catholic NGO that works to protect the rights and dignity of the child worldwide. Speaking to them, Pope Francis also spoke about the need to reaffirm the rights of parents to decide “the moral and religious education of their children” and reject all forms of “educational experimentation with children and young people”.
He said that it is every child’s right to grow up in a family “with a father and a mother” capable of creating “a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity”. The Pope also called for an end to what he termed as “educational experiments” with children and young people, pushing a “dictatorship of one form of thinking” on them in the name of a pretended “modernity”.
The Pope noted that the “horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the twentieth century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals”.
To counter this he urged the BICE members to foster a true anthropological formation of the child respectful of the reality of the person, to enable children and young people to respond to the problems and challenges posed by contemporary culture and widespread mentality propagated by the mass media.
I don’t now if this is going to become a habit or not. I can tell you that I don’t always agree with Mr Voris. But when he steps out in the face of personal attacks against himself and supports the pope, I support him. When he works to clarify the fog of inaccurate reporting about our Holy Father, I gratefully support him.
Here’s the video and its discussion about the ways in which Pope Francis’ statements have been mis-quoted, mis-interpreted and mis-used.