Clerical attitude

Pope Francis

05.05.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

John 10: 22-30

Let us pray today for the deceased who have died because of the pandemic. They died alone. They died without the caress of their loved ones. So many of them did not even have a funeral. May the Lord receive them in glory.

Jesus was in the temple, the feast of Easter was near (John 10:22-30). Even the Jews, at that time, came around him and said, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly" (10: 24). They would make some lose patience, but Jesus meekly answered them, "I told you and you do not believe" (10: 25). They kept saying. "But is it you? Is it you?" and Jesus said "Yes, I told you, but you do not believe" "But you do not believe because you are not among my sheep" (10:26). And this, perhaps, raises a doubt: I believe and I am a part of the sheep of Jesus. But if Jesus said to us: "You cannot believe because you are not a part?".. What is this to be part of Jesus' faith? What is the thing that stops me in front of the door that is Jesus?

There are pre-confession attitudes, even for us, who are in the flock of Jesus.. that do not let us go forward in the knowledge of the Lord. The first of all is wealth. So many of us, who have entered through the door of the Lord, then stop and do not move forward because we are imprisoned by wealth. The Lord was hard, with wealth: he was very hard, very hard. To the point of saying that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 19:24). That's hard. Wealth is an impediment to moving forward. But should we fall into poverty? No. But do not be slaves to wealth, do not live for wealth, because riches are a lord, they are the lord of this world and we cannot serve two lords (cf. Luke 16:13). And wealth stop us.

Another thing that prevents us from moving forward in the knowledge of Jesus, and in belonging to Jesus, is rigidity: the rigidity of the heart. Even the rigidity in the interpretation of the Law. Jesus reproached the Pharisees, the doctors of the Law for this rigidity ( Mt 23: 1-36). That is not fidelity: faithfulness is always a gift of God; rigidity is a security for myself. I remember once when I walked into a parish and a lady – a good lady – came up to me and said, "Father, a piece of advice..." – "Say ..." – "Last week, Saturday, not yesterday, the other Saturday, we went as a family to a wedding: it was with Mass. It was Saturday afternoon, and we thought that with this Mass we had fulfilled the Sunday precept. But then, on my way home, I thought the Readings of that Mass were not the ones of Sunday. And so I realized that I am in mortal sin, because I did not go on Sunday because I went Saturday, but to a Mass that was not right, because the readings were not right." That's rigidity. And that lady belonged to a church movement. Rigidity. This distances us from the wisdom of Jesus, from the beauty of Jesus; it takes away your freedom. And so many pastors make this rigidity grow in the souls of the faithful, and this rigidity does not allow us enter through the door of Jesus (John 1: 7). Is it more important to observe the law as it is written or how I interpret it, rather than the freedom to move forward following Jesus?

Another thing that does not let us go forward in the knowledge of Jesus is the apathy. That tiredness. Let's think of that man at the pool: there 38 years (cf. John 5: 1-9). It's apathy. It takes away the will to go on and everything is "yes, but ... no, now no, no, but ...", it makes you tepid and makes you lukewarm. Apathy, it's another thing that keeps us from moving forward.

Another that is quite ugly is a clerical attitude. Clericalism puts itself in the place of in Jesus. It says: "No, this must be so, so..." – "But, the Master ..." – "Leave the Master aside: this is so, so, so, and if you do not do so, so, so you cannot enter." A clericalism that takes away the freedom of the faith of believers. It is a disease, in the church: the clerical attitude.

Then, another thing that prevents us from moving forward, of coming in to know Jesus and confessing Jesus is the worldly spirit. When the observance of faith, the practice of faith ends in worldliness. And everything is worldly. Let us think of the celebration of some sacraments in some parishes: how much worldliness there is there! And the grace of Jesus' presence is not well understood.

These are the things that stop us from being part of Jesus' sheep. We are "sheep" of all these things: wealth, apathy, rigidity, worldliness, clericalism, ideologies.. Freedom is lacking. And you cannot follow Jesus without freedom. But sometimes freedom goes too far and one slips: yes, it is true. It's true. We can slip on the way of freedom. But it is worse to slip before you go, with these things that prevent you from starting to go towards Jesus.

May the Lord enlightens us to see within us if there is the freedom to pass through the door that is Jesus and go beyond; to become a flock, to become sheep of his flock.


Pope Francis

07.11.21 Angelus, St Peter's Square

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

1 Kings 17: 10-16,

Mark 12: 38-44

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The scene described in the Gospel of today’s Liturgy takes place inside the Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus looks, he looks at what is happening in this the most sacred of places; and he sees how the scribes love to walk around to be seen, greeted and revered, and to have the places of honour. And Jesus adds that they “devour widows’ houses and recite long prayers in order to be seen” (cf. Mk 12:40). At the same time, another scene catches his eyes: a poor widow, precisely one of those exploited by the powers that be, puts in the Temple treasury “everything she had, her whole living” (Mk 12:44). This is what the Gospel says, she puts everything she had to live on in the Treasury. The Gospel presents us with this striking contrast: the rich who give from their surplus wealth to make themselves seen, and a poor woman, who without seeming to, offers every little bit she has. Two symbols of human attitudes.

Jesus watches the two scenes. And it is specifically this verb – “to watch” – that sums up his teaching: “we must watch out for” those who live their faith with duplicity, like the scribes, so as not to become like them; whereas we must “watch” the widow, and take her as a model. Let us reflect on this: to watch out for hypocrites and to watch the poor widow.

First of all, to watch out for hypocrites, that is, to be careful not to base our life on the cult of appearances, externals, and the exaggerated care of one’s own image. And most importantly, to be careful not to bend faith around our own interests. In the name of God, those scribes covered-up their own vanity, and even worse, they used religion to cultivate their own affairs, abusing their authority and exploiting the poor. Here we see that very bad attitude that we see in many places today, clericalism, this being above the humble, exploiting them, demeaning them, considering oneself perfect. This is the evil of clericalism. This is a warning for all time and for everyone, Church and society: never to take advantage of a specific role to crush others, never to make money off the backs of the weakest! And to watch out so as not to fall into vanity, so as not to be fixated on appearances, losing what is essential and living superficially. Let us ask ourselves, it will help us: do we want to be appreciated and gratified by what we say and what we do, or rather to be of service to God and neighbour, especially the weakest? We must be watch out for falsehood of the heart, against hypocrisy which is a dangerous illness of the soul! It is a dualism of thought, a dual judgement, as the word itself says: “to judge below”, to appear one way and “hypo”, beneath, to think in a different way. Doubles, people with double souls, a duality of the soul.

To heal this illness, Jesus invites us to watch the poor widow. The Lord denounces the exploitation of this woman, who, in making her offering, must return home without even the little she had to live on. How important it is to free the sacred from ties with money! Jesus had already said it elsewhere: you cannot serve two masters. Either you serve God - and we think he says “or the devil”, no - either God or money. He is a master, and Jesus says we must not serve him. But, at the same time, Jesus praises the fact that this widow puts all she has into the treasury. She has nothing left, but finds her everything in God. She is not afraid of losing the little she has because she trusts in God’s abundance, and God’s abundance multiplies the joy of those who give. This also makes us think of that other widow, the one of the prophet Elijah, who was about to make a flatbread with the last of her flour and the last of her oil; Elijah says to her: “Feed me” and she gives; and the flour never runs out, it is a miracle (cf. 1 Kings 17:9-16). The Lord always, in the face of people’s generosity, goes further, is more generous. But it is He, not our avarice. This is why Jesus proposes her as a teacher of faith, this woman: she does not go to the Temple to clear her conscience, she does not pray to make herself seen, she does not show off her faith, but she gives from her heart generously and freely. The sound of her few coins is more beautiful than the grandiose offerings of the rich, since they express a life sincerely dedicated to God, a faith that does not live by appearances but by unconditional trust. Let us learn from her: a faith without external frills, but interiorly sincere; a faith composed of humble love for God and for our brothers and sisters.

And now let us turn to the Virgin Mary, who with a humble and transparent heart made her entire life a gift for God and for his people.


Pope Francis

29.06.22 Holy Mass and blessing of the Sacred Pallia for the new metropolitan archbishops, Papal Chapel, St Peter's Basilica

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Acts 12: 1-11,

2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18

The testimony given by the two great Apostles Peter and Paul today comes to life once more in the Church’s liturgy. Peter, imprisoned by King Herod, is told by an angel of the Lord: “Get up quickly” (Acts 12:7), while Paul, looking back on his entire life and apostolate says: “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim 4:7). Let us reflect on these two phrases – “get up quickly” and “fight the good fight” – and ask what they have to say to today’s Christian community, engaged in the synodal process.

First, the Acts of the Apostles tell us of the night that Peter was freed from the chains of prison. An angel of the Lord tapped him on the side as he was sleeping, “and woke him, saying, ‘get up quickly’” (Acts 12:7). The angel awakens Peter and tells him to get up. The scene reminds us of Easter, because it contains two verbs present in the accounts of the resurrection: awaken and get up. In effect, the angel awakens Peter from the sleep of death and urges him to get up, to rise and set out towards the light, letting himself be guided by the Lord in passing through all the closed doors along the way (cf. v. 10). This image has great meaning for the Church. We too, as disciples of the Lord and the Christian community, are called to get up quickly, to enter into the mystery of the resurrection, and to let the Lord guide us along the paths that he wishes to point out to us.

Still, we experience many inward forms of resistance that prevent us from setting out. At times, as Church, we are overcome by laziness; we prefer to sit and contemplate the few sure things that we possess, rather than getting up and looking to new horizons, towards the open sea. Often we are like Peter in chains, imprisoned by our habits, fearful of change and bound to the chains of our routine. This leads quietly to spiritual mediocrity: we run the risk of “taking it easy” and “getting by”, also in our pastoral work. Our enthusiasm for mission wanes, and instead of being a sign of vitality and creativity, ends up appearing tepid and listless. Then, the great current of newness and life that is the Gospel becomes in our hands – to use the words of Father de Lubac – a faith that “falls into formalism and habit…, a religion of ceremonies and devotions, of ornaments and vulgar consolations… a Christianity that is clerical, formalistic, anemic and callous” (The Drama of Atheist Humanism).

The Synod that we are now celebrating calls us to become a Church that gets up, one that is not turned in on itself, but capable of pressing forward, leaving behind its own prisons and setting out to meet the world, with the courage to open doors. That same night, there was another temptation (cf. Act 12:12-17): that young girl so taken aback that, instead of opening the door, went back to tell what seemed like a dream. Let us open the door. The Lord calls. May we not be like Rhoda who turned back.

A Church without chains and walls, in which everyone can feel welcomed and accompanied, one where listening, dialogue and participation are cultivated under the sole authority of the Holy Spirit. The Church that is free and humble, that “gets up quickly” and does not temporize or dilly-dally before the challenges of the present time. A Church that does not linger in its sacred precincts, but is driven by enthusiasm for the preaching of the Gospel and the desire to encounter and accept everyone. Let us not forget that word: everyone. Everyone! Go to crossroads and bring everyone, the blind, the deaf, the lame, the sick, the righteous and the sinner: everyone! This word of the Lord should continue to echo in our hearts and minds: in the Church there is a place for everyone. Many times, we become a Church with doors open, but only for sending people away, for condemning people. Yesterday one of you said to me “This is no time for the Church to be sending away, it is the time to welcome”. “They did not come to the banquet…” – so go to the crossroads. Bring everyone, everyone! “But they are sinners…” – Everyone!

In the second reading, we hear the words of Paul who, looking back on his whole life, says: “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim 4:7). The Apostle is referring to the countless situations, some marked by persecution and suffering, in which he did not spare himself in preaching the Gospel of Jesus. Now at the end of his life, he sees that a great “fight” is still taking place in history, since many are not disposed to accept Jesus, preferring to pursue their own interests and follow other teachers, more accommodating, easier, more to our liking. Paul has fought his own battles and, now that he has run his race, he asks Timothy and the brethren of the community to carry on his work with watchful care, preaching and teaching. Each, in a word, is to accomplish the mission he or she has received; each must do his or her part.

Paul’s exhortation is also a word of life for us; it makes us realize that, in the Church, all of us are called to be missionary disciples and to make our own contribution. Here two questions come to my mind. The first is: What can I do for the Church? Not complaining about the Church, but committing myself to the Church. Participating with passion and humility: with passion, because we must not remain passive spectators; with humility, because being committed within the community must never mean taking centre stage, considering ourselves better and keeping others from drawing near. That is what a synodal Church means: everyone has a part to play, no individual in the place of others or above others. There are no first or second class Christians; everyone has been called.

Participating also means carrying on “the good fight” of which Paul speaks. For it is a “fight”, since the preaching of the Gospel is never neutral – may the Lord free us from watering down the Gospel to make it neutral – it is never neutral, it does not leave things the way they are; it accepts no compromise with the thinking of this world, but instead lights the fire of the kingdom of God amid the reign of human power plays, evil, violence, corruption, injustice and marginalization. Ever since Jesus rose from the dead, and became the watershed of history, “there began a great fight between life and death, between hope and despair, between being resigned to the worst and struggling for the best. A fight that will know no truce until the definitive defeat of all the powers of hatred and destruction (C.M. MARTINI, Easter Homily, 4 April 1999).

So the second question is: What can we do together, as Church, to make the world in which we live more humane, just and solidary, more open to God and to fraternity among men? Surely we must not retreat into our ecclesial circles and remain pinned to some of our fruitless debates. Let us take care not to fall into clericalism, for clericalism is a perversion. A minister who is clerical, who has a clerical attitude, has taken the wrong road; even worse are clericalized lay people. Let us be on our guard against this perversion which is clericalism. Let us help one another to be leaven in the dough of this world. Together we can and must continue to care for human life, the protection of creation, the dignity of work, the problems of families, the treatment of the elderly and all those who are abandoned, rejected or treated with contempt. In a word, we are called to be a Church that promotes the culture of care, tenderness and compassion towards the vulnerable. A Church that fights all forms of corruption and decay, including those of our cities and the places we frequent, so that in the life of every people the joy of the Gospel may shine forth. This is our “fight”, and this is our challenge. The temptation to stand still is great; the temptation of that nostalgia which makes us look to look at other times as better. May we not fall into the temptation of “looking back”, which is becoming fashionable today in the Church.

Brothers and sisters today, according to a fine tradition, I have blessed the Pallia for the recently named Metropolitan Archbishops, many of whom are present at our celebration. In communion with Peter, they are called to “get up quickly”, not to sleep, and to serve as vigilant sentinels over the flock. To get up and “fight the good fight”, never alone, but together with all the holy and faithful people of God. And as good shepherds, to stand before the people, among the people, and behind the people, but always with the God’s holy and faithful people, since they themselves are also part of the holy and faithful People of God.

I cordially greet the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate sent by my dear brother Bartholomew. Thank you for your presence and for the message you have brought from Bartholomew! Thank you for walking together because only together can we be the seed of the Gospel and witnesses of fraternity.

May Peter and Paul intercede for us, for the city of Rome, for the Church and for our entire world. Amen.

29.06.22 m