Pope Francis on Monday receives seminarians from the Pontifical Regional Seminary Flaminio located in Bologna on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of its foundation.
In his speech, Pope Francis spoke about the “beauty of the call to the ministerial priesthood”.
He described the seminary as a place of growth for seminarians, identifying three key aspects: a house of prayer, study and communion.
On the first aspect, the Pope stressed that it was necessary to devote an adequate commitment to spiritual formation since these are the most favourable years for learning to be with the Lord, “to learn to listen to him and contemplate his face.”
He noted the importance of silence and remaining in God’s presence, but he also stressed that the encounter with Jesus in the face and flesh of the poor is also essential.
Addressing the second aspect, that of “study”, the Pope said that commitment to study, even in seminaries, is clearly personal, but not individual. He also commented, that sharing lessons and study with fellow seminaries is also a way of becoming part of a presbytery.
Focusing on the third aspect, the “house of communion”, the Pope said it has a “transversal” character, because” it starts from an opening to others” but takes the form of “presbyteral communion around the guidance of the bishop”.
Pope Francis emphasized to those present that the pastoral charity of the priest cannot be credible if it is not preceded and accompanied by fraternity, first among seminarians and then among priests.
It is a fraternity, he said, “increasingly permeated with the apostolic form, and enriched by the traits of diocesan life, that is, by those peculiar characteristics of the people of God and of the saints, especially holy priests, of a particular Church.”
The Pontiff reminded the seminarians present that they had been “chosen by the Lord”.
He also said, seeing priests fragmented made him suffer. When the presbytery is not united, he underlined, it leads to priests going against one another and speaking badly of each other.
Priests, he stressed, needed to remain close to their Bishop, to their fellow priests and most of all, close to God.
If key elements of closeness are missing, noted the Pope, the priest will not work and will slowly slip into the perversion of clericalism or attitudes of rigidity. “Where there is clericalism there is corruption, and where there is rigidity, under rigidity, there are serious problems”, he said.
With thanks to Vatican News.