In his homily in Santa Marta, the pope spoke about the rigidity of some priests. He is sure that when they "fall" into this rut, they forget their true purpose, which is to help those in need.
"Rigidity. [They face] the people of God with a switch in their hand: ‘This cannot be, this cannot be ...’. And so many people come approaching, looking for a bit of consolation, a little understanding, and are chased away by this rigidity.”
He concluded by saying that "when the priest's work becomes a mere habit, it ends with ridiculousness, always."
EXTRACTS OF PAPAL HOMILY
(Source: Vatican Radio)
"The mediator gives himself to unite the parties, he gives his life. That is the price: his life – he pays with his life, his fatigue, his work, so many things, but – in this case, the pastor - to unite the flock, to unite people, to bring them to Jesus. The logic of Jesus as mediator is the logic of annihilating oneself. St. Paul in his Letter to the Philippians is clear on this: ‘He annihilated Himself, emptied Himself, and to achieve this union, [He did so] even unto death, death on a cross. That is the logic: to empty oneself, to annihilate oneself.”
"But to make themselves important, intermediary priests must take the path of rigidity: often disconnected from people, they do not know what human suffering is; they forget what they had learned at home, with dad’s work, with mom’s, grandfather’s, grandmother’s, his brothers' ...They lose these things. They are rigid, [they are] those rigid ones that load upon the faithful so many things that they do not carry, as Jesus said to the intermediaries of his time: rigidity. [They face] the people of God with a switch in their hand: ‘This cannot be, this cannot be ...’. And so many people approaching, looking for a bit of consolation, a little understanding, are chased away with this rigidity.”
"About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus – and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero [the clerical clothing store] and saw a young fellow - he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest - before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet, with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno [wide-brimmed clerical headgear], he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and worldly one. And that priest – he is wise, that monsignor, very wise - was able to overcome the pain, with a line of healthy humor and added: ‘And it is said that the Church does not allow women priests!’. Thus, when the priest's work becomes a mere habit, it ends with ridiculousness, always.”
"In the examination of conscience, consider this: today was I a functionary or a mediator? Did I look after myself, did I look to my own comfort, my own comfort, or did I spend the day at the service of others? Once, a person told me how he knew what kind of priest a man was by the attitude they had with children: if they knew how to care for a child, to smile at a child, to play with a child ... It is interesting, because this means lowering oneself, getting close to the little things. Rather, the go-between is sad, always with that sad face or the too-serious, dark face. The intermediary has the dark eyes, very dark! The mediator is open: the smile, the warmth, the understanding, the caresses.”
"This is how a mediator makes his end: as a piece of bread for his faithful. Another icon is St. Francis Xavier, who died young on the beach of Shangchuan, looking toward China where he wanted to go but could not because the Lord took him to Himself. And then, the last icon: the elderly St. Paul at the Three Fountains. Early that morning, the soldiers went to him, they got him, and he walked bent over.He knew that was because of the treachery of some in the Christian community but he had struggled so much, so much in his life, that he offered himself to the Lord as a sacrifice.”