Pope Francis on Bishops and Priests

Pope FrancisKorea at night

NCRep notes key passages from the Holy Father’s address to the Korean bishops were excised from the web. Were they “tough” as the NCRep headlined it? Honest, I would say … or presume to say. I would want that kind of feedback when I steer away from the mission.

Lots of people will focus on the poor, and it will be well said, I’m sure. I was struck by the advice of how to conduct oneself as a bishop:

Bishops must not be distant from their priests, or worse, unapproachable. I say this with a heavy heart. Where I come from, some priests would tell me: “I’ve called the bishop, I’ve asked to meet him; yet three months have gone by and I have still not received an answer”. Brothers, if a priest phones you today and asks to see you, call him back immediately, today or tomorrow. If you don’t have time to see him, tell him: “I can’t meet you because of this, that and or the other thing, but I wanted to call you and I am here for you”. But let them hear their father’s response, as quickly as possible. Please, do not be distant from your priests.

There’s a trickle-down effect here, I think. I reflected on a recent email from a groom getting married next weekend. Was I as prompt as “today or tomorrow” in getting back to him with final input on the wedding program? I regret to say I wasn’t.

Some parish clergy I know are leery about the persistent ones–the 3% of parishioners who demand 97% of the time. Or so it seems. Without getting into unhealthy situations, it seems that the real needs can rise above the static of our lives.

Pope Francis’ suggested script, “I can’t meet you because of this, that and or the other thing, but I wanted to call you and I am here for you.” How many bishops have emulated the Holy Father’s cold calls? And why should this be just a characteristic of a 21st century papacy? Why not everyone?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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