AMERICA/CHILE - Pope Francis to Chilean Bishops: clericalism is the "enemy" of the mission

Wednesday, 17 January 2018 local churches   pope francis   bishops   priests   seminaries   laity   clericalism  

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Santiago de Chile (Agenzia Fides) - "Clericalism" is "one of the temptations that brings greater damage to the missionary dynamism" of the whole Church. It represents "a caricature of the vocation received", and is lurking when bishops and priests "lose their perception" of belonging to the People of God as servants, and not as masters". This is how Pope Francis described the features of an ecclesial pathology that "gradually extinguishes the prophetic fire of which the whole Church is called to bear witness in the hearts of its peoples". This is what he said in the brief and intense speech addressed to the Chilean bishops, whom he met in the Cathedral of Santiago de Chile in the late afternoon of Tuesday, January 16th. "Clericalism", added the Bishop of Rome, citing the Council's dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium "forgets that the visibility and the sacramentality of the Church belong to the whole People of God, and not just to a chosen and enlightened few". The apostolic mission - insisted the Successor of Peter "is of the whole Church, and not of the priest or bishop". And the removal of this trait of the missionary vocation of the Church "limits the horizon and, what is worse, limits all the initiatives that the Spirit can create among us". The Pope also suggested the concrete forms assumed by clericalism in conditioning the relations between the clergy and other members of the People of God: "The laity", said the Bishop of Rome, "are not our servants, nor our employees. They must not repeat what we say just like 'parrots'". The antidotes to clericalism - Pope Francis also suggested - should be nurtured with particular care in the seminaries, during the time of formation of future priests: "Seminaries" said in this regard Pope Bergoglio "must stress the fact that future priests are able to serve the holy faithful People of God, recognizing the diversity of cultures and renouncing the temptation of any form of clericalism. The priest is the minister of Christ, who is the protagonist who makes himself present throughout the People of God". The priests of tomorrow - added the Successor of Peter "must be formed looking to the future: their ministry will develop in a secularized world and, therefore, asks us pastors to discern how to prepare them to carry out their mission in that concrete scenario, and not in our 'worlds or ideal states' ". For this reason it is necessary to ask "the Holy Spirit the gift of working for a missionary and prophetic option that is capable of transforming everything, so that habits, styles, timetables, language and every ecclesial structure become instruments suitable for the evangelization of Chile, rather than for ecclesiastical self-preservation. We are not afraid of depriving ourselves of what takes us away from the missionary mandate". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 17/1/2018)

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