The Catholic News Service reports that Pope Francis urged priests and their superiors to remember their roots and acknowledge the families and communities that support them throughout their spiritual journeys. Addressing a group of priests and bishops, he said, “You cannot be a priest believing that you were created in a laboratory. No, it begins in the family with the tradition of the faith and all the experiences of the family."
The pope also reminded them of their central mission of ministering to the faithful, saying, "I tell you sincerely: I am afraid of rigid [priests]. I am afraid. Rigid priests, keep them far away, they bite! The words of St. Ambrose come to mind: 'Where there is mercy, there is the spirit of God. Where there is rigidity, there are only his ministers.’ And a minister without the Lord becomes rigid. This is a danger for the people of God. Be pastors, not officials.”
The priests and bishops were gathered for a conference sponsored by the Congregation for Clergy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II decrees on priestly formation and on priestly ministry and life.