POPE Francis has recommended the Church’s ministers adopt an attitude “marked by sharing, co-responsibility and communion”.
He made the comments during his main talk at a general audience on November 12, with an estimated 15,000 people attending in St Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis was continuing his series on the Church and its structure, focusing on the qualities necessary in its ministers.
“One does not become a bishop, priest or deacon because he is more intelligent or better than others,” the Pope said, “but only because of a gift: God’s gift of love poured out by the power of the Holy Spirit for the good of his people.”
The Church’s ministers, he said, must be aware of how merciful and compassionate God has been with them, because such honesty makes them “humble and understanding of others”.
Recognising that his call “flows only from God’s mercy and God’s heart” ensured a minister “will never assume an authoritarian attitude, as if everyone were placed at his feet and as if the community were his property or personal kingdom”, Pope Francis said.
“Woe to a bishop, priest or deacon who thinks he knows everything, who thinks he always has the right answer to every question and thinks he does not need anyone,” the Pope said.
While bishops and priests were called to “courageously safeguard” and share the teachings of the Church, they also must recognise that they “always have something to learn, even from those who may still be far from the faith and from the Church”.
Working together, supporting one another and examining questions together, he said, the Church’s ministers would demonstrate “a new attitude, one marked by sharing, co-responsibility and communion”.
Pope Francis said St Paul’s New Testament letters to Timothy and to Titus emphasised how the Church’s ministers must have faith and a robust spiritual life – “which cannot be ignored because they are life itself”. But the letters also outline human qualities a minister must have: “acceptance, moderation, patience, meekness, trustworthiness and goodness of heart”.
Those human qualities, he said, helped the Church’s ministers go out to meet others with the attitude of respect necessary for offering “a service and a witness that is truly joyful and credible”.