Several priests who follow the teachings of Pope Francis with attention have expressed to me their dismay and sorrow because they have recorded how often His Holiness denigrates priests. He has called them “bitter (cod-faced), spinsters, sacramental clerks, ambitious, gossipers, climbers…,” and other denigrating epithets. A lack of justice and charity.
There are thousands of priests in the world; among them there are some to whom some of the epithets that Francis’ accusations accumulate are applicable. But his generalizations in sermons, catechetical texts, and messages contradict the truth, and what is scandalous is that they depart radically from the affirmations of the Second Vatican Council, which dedicated the Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis to the ministry and life of priests. I quote some passages from that text:
“Configured to Christ the Priest by the sacrament of Holy Orders, they certainly received the sign and gift of so great a vocation and grace that they feel capable and obliged, in the same human weakness, to pursue perfection according to the Word of the Lord: ‘Be perfect as the Father who is in heaven is perfect’ (Mt 5:48). Priests are especially obliged to acquire that perfection… because they are living elements of the Eternal Priest in order to attain more aptly the perfection of the One whose function they represent… They are ordered to perfection of life by the very sacred actions they perform every day, as well as by their entire ministry” (P.O 12).
In the following paragraph, the Council “vehemently exhorts all priests to strive always toward greater holiness; this will make them more apt for the service of the People of God” (P.O 13). The ideal that the Council recalls is that of unity and harmony of life, which comes from the imitation of Christ in the exercise of the ministry; it is pastoral charity, a trait that distinguishes the diocesan priest from the religious, to whom the Council dedicates the Decree Perfectae caritatis. In Presbyterorum Ordinis, it is also affirmed that from the unity of life arrives “consolation and immense joy” (P.O. 14). It is striking how different this theological and spiritual perspective is from the petty sociological perspective of Francis in his slandering of priests. This is not perceived in the teachings of John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, who honored priests.
Another aspect to point out is that the Pope’s calumnies are frequently directed at priests who are closer to Tradition; he has called them “backwardists” [indietristi] because they “look backwards”, that is, because they do not follow the “new paradigms” proposed by the Successor of Peter. This is how the “canceled priests” abound, who are swept away as scum from the exercise of the ministry. Rome’s authoritarian progressivism is imitated all over the world. As it happens here, in Argentina, in several dioceses where the cancelation of priests faithful to Tradition, a dogmatic and practical Tradition, is exercised.
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