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Pope Francis Warns Poorly Trained Priests Can Become ‘Little Monsters’


Pope Francis(AP) — Pope Francis has warned that priests can become “little monsters” if they aren’t trained properly as seminarians, saying their time studying must be used to mold their hearts as well as their minds.

Francis also warned against accepting men for the priesthood who may have been implicated in sexual abuse or other problems, saying the protection of the Catholic faithful is most important.

The pontiff made the comments Nov. 29 during a closed-door meeting of 120 superiors of religious orders who gathered at the Vatican for their regular assembly. On Friday, the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica provided a report of the three-hour, informal question and answer session. The Vatican never provided a transcript of the meeting.

The magazine, which interviewed Francis last year, quoted the first Jesuit pope as telling the superiors he wants them to “wake up the world” with their work, particularly with the poor.

“Truly to understand reality we need to move away from the central position of calmness and peacefulness and direct ourselves to the peripheral areas,” he said.

Francis, who headed the Jesuits’ novice training program in his native Argentina in the 1970s, also warned the superiors of some of the failings of seminary training, or “formation,” such as when would-be priests merely “grit their teeth, try not to make mistakes, follow the rules smiling a lot, just waiting for the day when they are told ‘Good, you have finished formation.”

“This is hypocrisy that is the result of clericalism, which is one of the worst evils,” Francis was quoted as saying, returning to the issue of clericalism — or a certain cronyism and careerism among the men of the cloth — that he has frequently criticized.

The training of priests, he said, must be a “work of art, not a police action.”

“We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps,” he was quoted as saying.

Francis has spoken on several occasions about life in religious orders — the good and the bad — and hasn’t shied from offering his own personal experiences when speaking with groups of nuns and priests. The former Jorge Mario Bergoglio was only 36 when he was made superior of the Jesuits in Argentina in 1973, during a particularly turbulent time for the order in general and Argentina in particular. [more]





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  4. Deacon Bernie says:

    I’ve seen a significant metamorphois in the formation of priests during the 19 years I’ve lived in my current diocese. The now retired bishop was worried about having enough priests and was willing to take in older men who had lost their spouses and retired from their jobs. Very few of these men have become successful pastors and some were outright failures. Our current bishop seems to have established an upper age limit although this has not been publicly revealed. Seminarian training is far more diverse and includes at least a full year in parish life after ordination to deacon. They all now get sent to a Spanish speaking country to learn the language and the different customs, and they are sent to Rome and Israel for extended periods, not as tourists but as worker bees. I have a great deal of hope for the quality of the men now seeking ordination in our diocese.

  5. tasha says:

    what to do to those Priests who likes to be in relationship with women, or who needs women and relationship but do not leave the priesthood because he said he committed himself to God? And they believed that they can have relationship as long as there is no sex, for them blowjobs are not sex. They enjoy double lives..These kinds of priests are selfish and misguided. And they are also monsters

    • Recovering Catholic says:

      It sounds like you have “personal experience” with priests and their engaging in “BJs”, Tasha. Tell us more.

  6. Eileen Kovatch says:

    When a company is not successful, it’s management that gets walking papers. Thankfully the Catholic Church has a new CEO (Pope). It’s the next layer or two down that needs a makeover if seminarian training is to change.

  7. Bart says:

    I thought he was doing an examination of conxcience.

  8. Tony says:

    Little Monster Priests are the young conservative and traditionalist priests who want to act as though Vatican II never happened.
    These monsters wear cuff links, and long black dresses, pray in Latin, and Use their position to “lord it over the faithful.” They are really monsters.

    • David says:

      There’s a story of the Romans having taken the priestly vestments of the Saduceees because they knew that without them they would be confused and unable to function. We, as a Church, are a little hung up on clothes, too. Look at the nasty little posts in reference to the dress of women religious last week… the article wasn’t even concerning dress! High clericalism, partially evident in the clothes Tony describes, especially in young priests and seminarians, is something with which we should all be very concerned.

      • David says:

        Coincidently, i have just this moment read the following from Richard Rohr in “Falling Upward”: The result is a generation of seminarians and young clergy who are cognitively rigid and “risk adverse,” who want to circle the wagons around their imagined secure and superior group; who seem preoccupied with clothing, titles, perks, and externals of religion; and frankly have little use for the world beyond their own control or explanation. Ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, and social justice had dead issues for them.
        Rohr continues: “Self-knowledge is dismissed as psychology, love as “feminine softness,” critical thinking is disloyalty, while law, ritual, and priestcraft have become a compulsive substitute for actual divine encounter or honest relationship. This does not bode well for the future of any church or society.”
        I am thankful Pope Francis is talking about this. I lament the cultic priesthood model.

        • Tony says:

          Thank you David for that quote from Rohr. These l”little monster priests”. Who a
          Spire to advancement ion the clerical ladder have one less step to climb, they will not be little Lords, or Monsignors.

        • Recovering Catholic says:

          “Critical thinking” being viewed as “disloyalty” or “insubordination” is the one that irritates me the most! We should scrap the whole hierarchy system and start over fresh with just the example of Jesus.

  9. Witness the young men coming out of seminaries in the U.S. these days all being programmed in the olde high clericalism.
    Francis has named them well.

    • Ann (WOC) says:

      Thank you Tony and John; you have perfectly characterized their profile.

      • Ann (WOC) says:

        As a Jesuit superior he knows of what he speaks. These seminarians hardly have the “smell of the sheep” about them. Rather it is an expensive clerical cologne and an attitude of clerical entitlement.


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