The four "neighborhoods" of diocesan priests. "Being close to God in prayer", "being close to the bishop, always close to the bishop: without the bishop the Church does not move forward, without the bishop the priest can be a leader but he will not be a priest. Third closeness: to be near fellow priests, near to eachother”. "And the fourth closeness: closeness to the people of God".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Prayer, study and communion are three fundamental aspects of the formation of priests, together with "closeness" to the bishop and to the people of God. "If one of these is missing, the priest will not work and will slowly slide in the perversion of clericalism or in rigid attitudes. Where there is clericalism there is corruption, and where there is rigidity, under rigidity, there are serious problems ".
The seminar as a place of formation for priests was the subject of a reflection by Pope Francis who this morning received the community of the Pontifical Regional Seminary Flaminio Benedict XV in Bologna, on the occasion of the centenary of its foundation.
In his speech, Francis, who recently celebrated his 50 years of priesthood, indicated three aspects that "identify" the seminary, its being "house of prayer, house of study, house of communion".
The seminary, he said, "
And the Seminary is first of all the house of prayer where the Lord still summons “his own” in “a secluded place” (cf. Lk 9: 18), to have a strong experience of encounter and listening. In this way, He wishes to prepare them to become “educators of the People of God in the faith”, and to enable them to “proclaim with authority the Word of God”, to “assemble the scattered People” and nourish them with the Sacraments to set them “on the road to salvation” and to preserve them in unity (cf. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 68). It is necessary, therefore, to devote adequate effort to spiritual formation. These are the most favourable years for learning to “be with Him”, enjoying with amazement the grace of being His disciples, learning to listen to Him, to contemplate His face... Here the experience of silence and prayer is fundamental: it is there, in remaining in His presence, that the disciple can know the Master, as He is known to him – Saint Paul would say (cf. 1 Cor 13:12). But the encounter with Jesus in the face and flesh of the poor is also essential. This too is an integral part of the seminarian’s spiritual formation."
"The second aspect that identifies the Seminary is that of study. Study is part of an itinerary aimed at educating a living faith, a conscious faith, called to become the faith of the pastor. In this journey, study is the privileged instrument of wisdom and scientific knowledge, capable of ensuring solid foundations for the entire building of the formation of future priests."
"And let us come to the third dimension: the seminary as a house of communion. This aspect too is “transversal”, like the other two. It starts from a human basis of openness to others, of a capacity for listening and dialogue, and is called to take the form of priestly communion around the bishop and under his guidance. The priest’s pastoral charity cannot be credible unless it is preceded and accompanied by fraternity, first among seminarians and then among priests”.
"Here I would like to stop for a moment to summarize the four “neighbourhoods”, the four attitudes of closeness of diocesan priests. To be close to God in prayer, I said, begins with the seminary. To be close to the bishop, always close to the bishop: without the bishop the Church does not work, without the bishop the priest can be a leader but he will not be a priest. Third form of closeness: being close to the presbytery, among yourselves. This is something that makes me suffer, when I see fragmented presbyteries, where they are against one another, or all courteous but then they speak badly of each other. If there is not a united presbytery... That does not mean that we cannot discuss, no, we discuss, we exchange ideas, but charity is the one that unites. And the fourth closeness: closeness to the people of God. Please do not forget where you came from".