Pope Francis condemns careerism among priests and religious. Treating one’s priesthood as a career rather than a personal calling from God to live a life of service and holiness is contrary to the Church’s teachings on the true nature of Catholic priesthood.
“Using especially strong language on one of his favorite themes, Pope Francis decried a plague of careerism among priests and urged them to renounce their personal ambitions for service to the church — warning that failure to do so would make them look “ridiculous.”
“Careerism is a leprosy, a leprosy,” the pope said June 6, in a speech to students from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the school for future Vatican diplomats. “Please, no careerism!”
All types of priestly ministry require “great inner freedom,” the pope said, which calls for “vigilance in order to be free from ambition or personal aims, which can cause so much harm to the church.”
Priests must make their priority the “cause of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the mission” entrusted to them, not self-fulfillment or public recognition, he said.
Such self-denial “may appear demanding,” the pope said, “but it will allow you, so to speak, to be and to breathe within the heart of the church.”
By “cultivating a life of prayer,” he told the priests, one can transform daily work into the “gymnasium of your sanctification” (Catholic News Service).
Here are some signs that your priest is infected with the leprosy of careerism and, therefore, has serious problems with his vocation as a servant of God. This calls for the laity to pray for priests and be vigilant against clerical abuse to help them overcome careerism:
1. He is often conscious about his physical appearance.
Priests are expected to be role models in hygiene and decency with regard to attire. But if he is too conscious of his looks and acts like ordinary teenagers, be warned that he have fallen in love with somebody or is having personal issues he cannot let go. It is normal for a person who falls in love to be extra conscious about their appearance and health.
2. He is often unavailable in the parish church.
Priests are normally busy on weekends, especially Sundays, because most of the sacraments in the parish are celebrated during these days. Except if priests has other duties in the Church or seminary, they are expected to be available on weekdays. If they are not available and always out-of-town, then be warned that they may have personal affairs or relationships they are busy with during ordinary days.
3. He lacks enthusiasm when celebrating the sacraments.
If the priest celebrates the sacraments such as the Mass, Baptism, Matrimony, etc as if he is only doing them as a chore, without enthusiasm, then be warned that he may have problems with his prayer life. One can easily feel the sanctity of the priest through his aura, demeanor, and level of spiritual enthusiasm in celebrating Christ’s sacraments.
4. He is often in need of money.
Priests have allowances and can receive stipends when celebrating masses. But if he engages in funding raising without a reasonable cause, be warned that your priest might be financing something such as a fancy car or supporting his own family which can be contrary to his vocation.
5. He is often temperamental.
It is understandable that a priest might get angry if something goes wrong in his parish plans and see wrongdoing of his parishioners. After all, priests are also humans. But if he is suddenly different from his usual self and becomes easily irritable even in trivial things, then be warned that he might be in serious crisis with his vocation. He might have some serious personal problems which may be contrary to his vocation.
6. He doesn’t prepare well his sermons.
One can easily tell through the aura and sermon of the priest if he is a holy and spiritual person or he is just doing a chore. A good priest prepares his sermons well. He must not exceed 15 minutes in his homily as suggested by Pope Francis. He must not also use his sermons to vent his personal issues and unfulfilled needs.
7. He loves to show off his latest gadgets.
Priests who love to show off his latest gadgets, such as iPhones, hoover boards, Mac Pros, and other expensive equipment, are giving wrong impressions to the laity. Why would they act like secular persons if they are spiritual leaders of the Church? They are supposed to be role models in Christian virtues and not commercial models for the latest expensive gadgets. Lay people would then start to doubt the sincerity, spirit of poverty, and holiness of their parish priests if they see them owning and using expensive gadgets.
8. He likes fancy cars.
Craving for fancy cars and SUVs seems to be the common preoccupation of the new generation of priests. Instead of making themselves role of models of practicing the spirit of poverty mentioned in the Beatitudes, they become status symbols of a middle class lifestyle. The diocese must have a strict policy on owing and using luxury vehicles for their priests as this practice is contrary to the simple lifestyle of Jesus.
9. He is worldly in his ways.
Priests can be sociable beings but not socialites.As pastors and witnesses of the Gospel, they must be aware that there personal actions, tastes, and activities must not be interpreted by the laity as worldly or materialistic. Lay people can easily spot a priest who is spiritual from a worldly one.
10. He is having an affair.
Although lay people can sympathize with priest’s loneliness and lack of intimacy in parish church, they are also alarmed if they know their priests are having an affair with women or men. Persistent concubinage and other forms of illicit sexual union by priests are forbidden by the Church’s Canon Law. Once a priest engages in concubinage or sexual abuse, he loses gradually his vocation and lives a double life. He loses his credibility and becomes a liability to the Church. The Catholic church paid millions of dollars as damages in courts due to clerical sexual abuse in the US and around the world. The most common challenge faced by many priests today is how to satisfy their need for intimacy without leaving the priesthood.
GIF Credits: Giphy.com
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