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20130605nw906 webPope Francis greets the crowd during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Using especially strong language on one of his favorite themes, Pope Francis decried a plague of careerism among priests and urged them to renounce their personal ambitions for service to the church -- warning that failure to do so would make them look "ridiculous."

"Careerism is a leprosy, a leprosy," the pope said June 6, in a speech to students from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the school for future Vatican diplomats. "Please, no careerism!"

All types of priestly ministry require "great inner freedom," the pope said, which calls for "vigilance in order to be free from ambition or personal aims, which can cause so much harm to the church."

Priests must make their priority the "cause of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the mission" entrusted to them, not self-fulfillment or public recognition, he said.

Such self-denial "may appear demanding," the pope said, "but it will allow you, so to speak, to be and to breathe within the heart of the church."

By "cultivating a life of prayer," he told the priests, one can transform daily work into the "gymnasium of your sanctification."

The pope recalled that Blessed John XXIII, who died 50 years ago June 3, had served as a Vatican diplomat for much of his career. Pope Francis quoted a statement by Blessed John that church diplomacy "should always be permeated by a pastoral spirit; otherwise, it counts for nothing, and makes a holy mission ridiculous."

Elaborating on the idea, Pope Francis warned that a papal diplomat who "doesn't go along the way of sanctity, and gets involved in so many forms, in so many kinds of spiritual worldliness, makes himself ridiculous, and everyone laughs at him."

"Please, don't make yourselves ridiculous," he said. "Either be saints or go back to the diocese and be a pastor, but don't be ridiculous in the diplomatic life, where for a priest there are so many dangers for the spiritual life."

The pope also acknowledged the value of Vatican diplomacy to him as the "successor of Peter," with a "particular mission at the service of communion and the unity of the flock of Christ," and a "pastoral charity that embraces the whole world."

Diplomats, he said, allow the pope to extend his charity to "those places, often forgotten, where the needs of the church and of humanity are greatest."

 

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.