Pope Francis – Purpose of priesthood

What’s priesthood for?

During last week’s Jubilee for Priests in Rome, Bishop Robert Barron sat down for an interview with CNA where he discussed Pope Francis’ view on the meaning of the priesthood.

“In the vision of Pope Francis, (priests) are the key players in communicating the Divine Mercy to the world. He sees that as our primary mission,” Bishop Barron said June 3.

“I think (the Pope) sees the mercy emphasis as the best way to renew the priesthood for our time.”

Bishop Barron, founder of Word On Fire Catholic ministries and auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, was invited to give a catechesis to the English-language participants during the June 1-3 Jubilee of Priests.

The three day event is the latest initiative in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which began last December and will continue until November.

Before being appointed auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles in July of last year, Bishop Barron served as the rector of Mundelein seminary, starting 2012.

A couple years earlier, the Chicago native launched the Word On Fire online ministries in 2000.

See the rest of CNA’s interview with Bishop Robert Barron below:

You gave a catechesis to the English-speaking priests taking part in the Jubilee, with some 800 priests gathered at the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle. What were some of the main points you discussed?

I talked about the woman at the well, which is a favorite of Pope Francis. I drew four points from it about God’s mercy. (First), that God’s mercy is relentless, crossing boundaries and borders as Jesus does, reaching out to this triple outsider.

Secondly, the Divine mercy is divinizing. It’s not just padding us on the head and healing our wounds; it lifts us up to share in the very divine life. He wants to give the woman at the well water bubbling up to eternal life.

And then thirdly, I talked about Divine mercy as challenging. I’m against the view that the more you say ‘mercy,’ the less you say ‘moral challenge.’ No: it’s both/and. It’s mercy all the way, and that implies transformation – metanoia. Finally, mercy sends us on mission. Continue reading

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Thanks to CATHNEWS N.Z. for this article, in which a correspondent discussed the Pope’s deepest understanding of the purpose of the ordained priesthood in the Catholic Church. In the context of the unfolding of the declared ‘Year of Mercy’, here’s a seminal paragraph in the communique:

“In the vision of Pope Francis, (priests) are the key players in communicating the Divine Mercy to the world. He sees that as our primary mission,” Bishop Barron said June 3. I think (the Pope) sees the mercy emphasis as the best way to renew the priesthood for our time.”

In his new initiatives in the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis is exemplifying the distinctive quality of mercy, in the way he is dealing, e.g., with the subject of admission to Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. Also, although he might have problems with the marriage of same-sex couples, the Pope expresses his own personal sympathy for gay people. His public statement after the recent massacre of people at a gay nightclub in Florida portrays this. 

For those in the Church who put puritanical  legalism above the dominical admonition to administer the charisms of non-judgementalism and forgiveness, Jesus has proved the case for the very opposite. Against the priorities of ISIS fundamentalism – which places dire retribution for perceived sins as a major discipline – one only has to examine the stories of the woman caught in the act of adultery, the woman at the well, and  the Pharisee and the Sinner in the Temple to see the direction in which the charism of priesthood might best be utilised for the sake of the Kingdom of God; who always seeks to restore the ‘lost sheep’, rather than the 99 (righteous) others.

The work of the Church is always Mission rather than merely maintenance.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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