Thundering applause welcomed Pope Francis inside the Vatican's Clementine Hall. He met with bishops, priests and seminarians from the Pontifical Leonian College, the seminary for the Lazio region.
"We are here to gather courage like the Apostles, and assure you our total and unconditional loyalty.”
During his remarks he talked about the four pillars needed within the formation of priests: prayer, study, fraternity and apostolic life.
"A strong spiritual life; a serious intellectual life: community life, and, lastly, an apostolic life, in no particular order. All four are important. If one is missing, the formation is no good.”
Pope Francis went on to talk about the meaning of becoming a priest, a "good shepherd.” Citing the Apostles, he talked about courage in preaching, mercy through the Sacraments, and constant prayer. The one thing a priest should not be, the Pope said, is a career bureaucrat.
"We have so, so many priest who are stuck on this path. It pains me that they are not fulfilled as priests. They behave like officials, like bureaucrats, and that is not good for the Church. I urge you, be careful not to fall on this path.”
The Pope added that there is no room for mediocrity in the discipleship of Jesus Christ, and that if a person is not up to the task of becoming a "man of prayer” and the "voice of Christ,” they should consider finding another path. He closed by giving seminarians another piece of advice.
"Russian mystics said that in moments of spiritual turbulence, one needs to take refuge under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God. Never leave it! Cover yourself with Her mantle.”
Near the end, he also thanked the seminarians that came to the Vatican on foot from the seminary, located less than 40 miles south of Rome.