“Leave the whip behind in the sanctuary,” Pope Francis told clergy gathered this week for retreat at the Roman Basilica of St. John Lateran. He challenged bishops, priests and deacons to mirror the tenderness of God in their ministries. They are called, the pope explained, to a ministry of tenderness which is “a divine grace.”
Speaking about the tenderness of God, the pope recalled Deuteronomy 24—explaining that God, while acknowledging that men’s hearts are hardened, nonetheless regards them with tenderness. God, he said, is omnipotent, and lowers himself to teach us to walk. He remembered the 23 Coptic Christian martyrs who were beheaded by Islamic militants in Libya in February, yet who believed that God accompanied them even in their martyrdom.
The priests were attending the Third Worldwide Priests’ Retreat “Called to Holiness for a New Evangelization,” organized by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services and the Catholic Fraternity. The retreat was held at St. John Lateran Basilica on June 10-14, and brought together clergy from around the world for a five-day series focusing on “Gathered, Reconciled, Transformed, Empowered and Sent…for a New Evangelization.”
Besides Pope Francis, speakers included Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of Vatican State; Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council of the Laity; Cardinal Benjamin Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome; Archbishop Alberto Taveira, Brazil, Spiritual Advisor of the Catholic Fraternity; Bishop José Luiz Azcona, Diocese of Marajò in Brazil; and Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household; Don Livio Tacchini, Italy; Fr. Jonas Abib, Brazil; and Fr. Daniel Ange of France.
Americans among the retreat faculty, all of whom are involved in the Charismatic Renewal, included Msgr. Joseph Malagreca, Fr. Kevin Scallon, Sister Briege McKenna, and Patti Gallagher Mansfield.