Pope Francis addressed the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Clergy on Thursday. The Plenary Assembly opened on May 30th, with a packed schedule that included the introduction, consideration, and discussion of several major documents, one of which was the draft text of an Instruction “On some questions regarding the parish, the ministry of the parish priest, the grouping (It. raggruppamento) of parishes within the diocese, and some possible configurations of pastoral care” in light of Canon 517, which deals with ways of organizing and managing parishes under circumstances in which there is a critical shortage of priests.
Clergy Plenary in brief
The Plenary Assembly was also slated to consider texts on subjects ranging from the rules regarding the incardination of clerics who are members of public associations of clergy, to the figure and role of the exorcist in diocesan ministry.
Pope Francis focused his remarks on the recently promulgated document on priestly formation: the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis.
Pope Francis to Clergy: allure of vocation and demands of priestly service
Here, the Holy Father’s reflection turned on a two-pronged lynchpin: the allure of the priestly vocation and the demanding path of priestly ministry for which formation must prepare the one who is called.
“It is necessary to admit that often young people are judged in a somewhat superficial way,” Pope Francis said, “and too easily they are labeled as a ‘liquid’ generation, devoid of passions and ideals.”
While there certainly are some young people who are fragile, disoriented, fragmented or infected by the culture of consumerism and individualism, “[T]his must not prevent us from recognizing that young people are capable of ‘firmly’ betting on life and playing with generosity; of looking to the future and thus being an antidote to the resignation and loss of hope that marks our society; of being creative and imaginative, courageous in changing, magnanimous when it comes to spending themselves for others or for ideals such as solidarity, justice and peace.”
“With all their limitations,” said Pope Francis, “[such young people] remain even today a resource.”
The life of prayer was the key Pope Francis indicated to young priests, who might be concerned with regard to the management of the tension between the poles of the allure of the priestly vocation and the demands of the way of priestly service.
Prayer the key
“Pray tirelessly,” Pope Francis said, “because we can be ‘fishers of men’ only if we first recognize that we have been ‘fished’ by the tenderness of the Lord. Our vocation began when, abandoning the land of our individualism and personal projects, we walked on the ‘holy journey’ by handing ourselves over to the Love that sought us in the night and the Voice that made our heart quick.”
“So,” he continued, “like the fishermen of Galilee, we left our nets to grab those that the Master delivered us. If we do not keep close to Him, our fishing will not be successful.”