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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis to priests: I know “going around in clerical attire” means “paying a heavy price”

On his way to the Cathedral of Santiago, Pope Francis waded through the masses of people. Hundreds of people accompanied him on the popemobile's route through the city. 

The joy was unleashed as the pope entered the packed cathedral. The Holy Father held a meeting with the priests, seminarians and other clergy of Chile. Before any greeting, though, Pope Francis placed flowers at the feet of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. 

Following a brief Bible reading, the pope gave a lengthy discourse in which he reflected on vocation. His first message was very clear, provoking smiles along with applause. 

“We are called individually but always as part of a larger group. Where vocation is concerned, there is no such thing as a selfie! Vocation demands that somebody else take your picture, and that is what we are about to do!”

However, it wasn't long before Pope Francis moved on to a more serious and painful topic. He spoke of the cases of abuse against minors. The Holy Father said he knew the consequences resulting from these crimes. 

"Painful too for the suffering of ecclesial communities, but also painful for you, brothers and sisters, who, after working so hard, have seen the harm that has led to suspicion and questioning; in some or many of you this has been a source of doubt, fear or a lack of confidence. I know that at times you have been insulted in the metro or walking on the street, and that by going around in clerical attire in many places you pay a heavy price.”

Facing an increasingly secular Chilean society, Pope Francis urged its clergy to not sit “brooding over desolation.” He also reminded them their strength comes from God's mercy. 

"We are not here because we are better than others; we are not superheroes who stoop down from the heights to encounter mere mortals. Rather, we are sent as men and women conscious of having been forgiven.”

Thus, the pope invited them to approach people without judging or condemning them, but rather looking humbly on their own flaws.

“A Church with wounds can understand the wounds of today’s world and make them her own, suffering with them, accompanying them and seeking to heal them. A wounded Church does not make herself the centre of things, does not believe that she is perfect, but puts at the centre the one who can heal those wounds, whose name is Jesus Christ.”

To conclude, the Holy Father encouraged them to have the same attitude as Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, beloved in Chile and also admired by the pope. In addition, not to wait for an ideal society in which to evangelize, but rather to be able to reach each restless person that wants to meet Jesus.