Pope Francis reminded priests to be “shepherds with the smell of the sheep” during a meeting with a group of French priests who are studying in Rome.
The pontiff on Monday, June 7, urged the priests to be always grounded in the situation of their flock and be “capable of living, of laughing and crying with your people.”
“Priesthood isolated from the people of God, is neither a Catholic priesthood nor a Christian one,” said the pope.
“The ‘superman’ priests end up badly, all of them,” said Pope Francis. “The fragile priest, who knows his weaknesses and talks about them with the Lord, he will be fine,” he added.
“Strip yourself of your preconceived ideas, your dreams of greatness, your self-affirmation, to put God and people at the center of your daily concerns,” he urged.
The pope also warned the priests against placing the identity of being an “intellectual” above that of being a “pastor.”
Reflecting on community life, the pope noted the temptation to gossip or to create closed-off groups which can be damaging to fraternity.
“May you always welcome one another as a gift,” he said.
“In a fraternity lived in truth, in the sincerity of relationships and in a life of prayer, we can form a community in which you can breathe the air of joy and tenderness.”
“The priest is a man who, in the light of the Gospel, spreads the taste of God around him and transmits hope to restless hearts: this is how it must be,” he said.
Pope Francis encouraged the young priests to not be afraid to dream of a Church entirely at the service of its members and the world, stating that each of them has a contribution to make.
“Do not be afraid to dare, to take risks, to go forward because you can do everything with Christ who gives you strength,” he said.
“With him you can be apostles of joy, cultivating in you the gratitude of being at the service of your brothers and of the Church.”
“A priest who has no sense of humor, does not like it, something is wrong. Imitate those great priests who laugh at others, at themselves, and even at their own shadow,” he said.
“And cultivate within yourselves the gratitude of being at the service of your brothers and of the Church.” – with a report from CNA