Pope Francis’ Qualifications for Bishops — Ambitious Priests Steeped in Clericalism Need Not Apply

I would like to conclude by saying just one word about one of the important points of your service as Papal Representatives, at least for the vast majority: collaboration in providing bishops. You know the famous expression that indicates a fundamental criterion in choosing who should govern: si sanctus est oret pro nobis, si doctus est doceat nos, si prudens est regat nos – if holy let him pray for us, if learned teach us, if prudent govern us. In the delicate task of carrying out inquiries for episcopal appointments be careful that the candidates are pastors close to the people, fathers and brothers, that they are gentle, patient and merciful; animated by inner poverty, the freedom of the Lord and also by outward simplicity and austerity of life, that they do not have the psychology of “Princes.” Be careful that they are not ambitious, that they do not seek the episcopate – volentes nolumus – and that they are married to a Church without being in constant search of another. That they are able to “watch over” the flock that will be entrusted to them, take care to keep it united, “vigilant” of the dangers that threaten it, but above all that they are able to “watch over” the flock, to keep watch, imbue hope, that they have sun and light in their hearts, to lovingly and patiently support the plans which God brings about in His people. Let us think of the figure of St. Joseph, who watches over Mary and Jesus, of his care for the family that God entrusted to him, and the watchful gaze with which he guides it in avoiding dangers. For this reason Pastors must know how to be ahead of the herd to point the way, in the midst of the flock to keep it united, behind the flock to prevent someone being left behind, so that the same flock, so to speak, has the sense of smell to find its way.”

From Pope Francis’ address to papal nuncios, June 21, 2013, as carried on Vatican Radio, “Be Pastors Who Carry Christ to the World”

Additional commentary: Pope Francis’ Game-Changing Decision: Non-Ambitious, Pastoral Bishops, Eugene Cullen Kennedy, National Catholic Reporter;  Pope Francis Wants Pastors as Bishops, Fr. Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

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