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Pope Francis to new bishops: Dispense mercy, don’t be ‘charming liars̵ …

Pope Francis smiles as he greets bishops at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican on September 7, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Remo Casilli *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-POPE-BISHOPS, originally transmitted on September 16, 2016.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis told a group of recently appointed bishops that the world “is tired of charming liars” and that they should embody mercy in their dioceses and not be whiners who promote their own “vain crusades.”

The pontiff also told them to be wary of seminarians “who take refuge in rigidity” of practices. “There’s always something ugly behind it,” he said.

Francis made his remarks Friday (Sept. 16) in a speech to newly appointed bishops who have been taking part in an annual Vatican orientation course on their new job.

In his address, the pope focused mostly on the approach they should take as pastors, saying in effect that attitude would do more to build up the diocese than any special management techniques.

“Be bishops who are able to enchant and attract,” Francis said. “Make your ministry a symbol of mercy, the only force able to seduce and attract the human heart in a permanent way.”

But, he warned them, don’t make it all about yourself.

“This is a danger! The world is tired of charming liars. And, I might say, of ‘trendy’ priests or bishops,” Francis said.

“People can sniff out — the people of God have the perceptiveness of God — and run away when they recognize narcissists, manipulators, defenders of their own causes and hawkers of vain crusades.”

Trust in the mercy of God, let mercy “form and inform” every diocesan structure, he said, and don’t give up in frustration and “invent bitter speeches” to justify “laziness.”

“The complaints of a bishop are ugly things,” he said.

With many bishops struggling with a shortage of priests, Francis also warned them not to be “tempted by numbers and quantity” of vocations but rather to focus on “quality.”

He added that they should help priests-in-training to be prepared for the rigors of their vocation.

In conclusion, the pope reminded the new bishops of the need to “make mercy pastoral” by using “prudence and responsibility” in staying close to families, especially those in difficulty.

Be like the Good Samaritan, he said, who accompanies the many people who are “wounded” by life and in need of a helping hand.

Church leaders today often “ask too much fruit of trees that have not been sufficiently cultivated,” and he said bishops should accompany their priests and their people with patience in every difficulty.

“I urge you be among them with discernment and understanding,” the pope said.

The pope referred to his Jubilee Year of Mercy as an opportunity for “a personal experience” of gratitude and reconciliation.

“The most precious richness you can bring from Rome at the beginning of your episcopal ministry is the awareness of the mercy with which you have been seen and chosen,” he said.

Earlier this week Francis and members of his nine-member Council of Cardinals discussed ways to improve the process of identifying the best priests to become bishops.

(Josephine McKenna covers the Vatican for RNS)

About the author

Josephine McKenna

Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.


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  • Pope Francis is a very negative and critical person. It’s also funny how he tells the new bishops, “Don’t make it all about yourself,” when he constantly makes it all about himself with the in-your-face “humility” for the cameras and microphones.

  • “Hyper Catholic”.. “Cat’s meow..” And your avitar is a cute little pussy cat with a hat and scarf!!! I love it! LOL!

  • I take it you’re a hippy “Catholic” heretic who hates orthodox Catholics more than anything in the universe. I’m sure you’re upset that the priesthood isn’t limited to “lesbians”.

  • Absolutely correct!! The bishops should be like him and say that women theologians are “strawberries on the cake,” Europe is a “grandmother who is no longer fertile and vibrant,” a nun should “be a mother and not an old maid!,” “A Church that seems more like a spinster than a mother,” “I am wary of ‘masculinity in a skirt,” and “Pastors often wind up under the authority of their housekeeper!”

  • Re-read the article, to find out what Pope Francis says about the perceptiveness of ‘the people of God’.
    You (and one or two others) may have convinced yourself that Francis’s humility is false.
    But the people of God disagree with you. They can recognise goodness when they see it.
    And it is their perceptiveness which is important.

  • The article isn’t about prejudice against women.
    Unless you think the Church has female bishops, or females in seminary formation?
    But perhaps you didn’t read the article.

  • The pope told a group of bishops that the world “is tired of charming liars” and not be whiners who promote their own “vain crusades.” The pontiff also told them to be wary of those “who take refuge in rigidity” of practices. “There’s always something ugly behind it,” he said. His comments about women were the first things I thought of, since he is a “do as I say not as I do” kind of guy.

  • “be wary of seminarians “who take refuge in rigidity” of practices.”

    If St. Paul were alive today he’d have to skip the priesthood in nuChurch™. He was an actual man; very zealous, loved the law and loved order which is the natural outlook for a man who loves truth.

    As usual, Bergoglio’s instruction here is completely the opposite of what is correct.

  • “The pontiff also told them to be wary of seminarians “who take refuge in
    rigidity” of practices. “There’s always something ugly behind it,” he

    I take that to mean Bishops should avoid seminarians who are orthodox in their faith. There is no other interpretation for that statement. Pope Francis is doing serious damage, and any Catholic who is paying attention is well aware of the division and discord he is sowing. Pray for our Church.

  • When Cardinal Bergoglio was elected Pontiff, he came out on that balcony in St.Peter’s square, dressed only in his white cassock, having refused to wear the other signs of his office. That, to me, is a direct affront to our previous popes all of whom accepted those “burdens” as the cost of service to the people of God.(Especially St. Pope John Paul ll.) Pope Francis’s humility just screams “look how humble I am”. Hypocrite.

  • The people of God saw what you did – but perceived something quite different: a humble man who wishes to be ‘Bishop of Rome’ rather than a ‘Prince of the Church’.
    BTW, he didn’t just have a white cassock on. Did you miss the crucifix? And the white zucchetto too?

  • It is probably best that you don’t write the first things that you think of.
    It is always better to stay on point.

  • Your point was not relevant to this article and thread – which are about an address that Pope Francis made to bishops (all male) about how they are to conduct themselves, and about how they are to be involved in the formation of their seminarians (also all male).

  • Franzneukirche!
    Has there ever been a public figure with less self-awareness?
    This is devolving from the tragic to the simply pitiful.
    Can somebody, please, wake this guy up.

  • Just wondering if anyone missed the ‘black shoes’? The red shoes that a pontiff wears signifies a submission to martyrdom if necessary in defense of Jesus Christ. Francis refuses the red shoes. Some of what the Pope wears and carries are significant symbolism, not some ‘showy’ pompous or prideful attire. They’re SYMBOLS of the faith, which some people are woefully ignorant of.

  • I don’t think the shoes were in view, were they? So ‘Yes, most people probably did ‘miss’ that detail.
    But there’s nothing sacred about shoes – red or otherwise. Pope Saint John Paul II rarely if ever wore red shoes.

  • Hello ‘Jay’.
    No, no-one has appointed me ‘spokesman’.
    However, it is very plain to see – simply by keeping in touch with world and Church news (you have a television, perhaps?) – that the vast majority of Catholic Christians regard Pope Francis very positively. They regard Francis very differently from the way that he is being depicted in this thread by (thus far) five or six people who seem to be extraordinarily embittered and hostile.

    So I’d say that the view of the ‘people of God’, taken in the whole (what we Catholics call the ‘sensus fidelium’, the ‘sense of the faithful’), is that Pope Francis is a good and holy man.

    I stand in and with the people of God. But no, I don’t pretend to be their spokesman.

    Where do you stand?

    PS – Added later – I see, from my email in-box, that you have tried (three different times!) to attempt a reply. None of your reply-variants feature here yet, possibly because you tried to include a web-link? But I’ll reply to one of your more tendentious points, by saying that I am ‘excommunicating’ nobody. Where do you get your ideas? All that I’m doing, is defending Pope Francis from the viciously aggressive attacks that you see elsewhere in this thread. If you stand with these other people, rather than with the vast majority of Catholics (including the millions who take their impression from what they have seen of Francis ‘in the flesh’, not – as you suggest – via the ‘media’) then ‘good luck’ to you. You will need it. Having now answered your as-yet-unpublished comment, I shall leave it there.

  • So are you really saying that god, who allowed the election of this vicar, is going ot change his mind about it if you pray?

  • Having to wear all of that gold, carry that gold, wear that gold brocade. Add in the prada pumps of Benny the Rat, and you indeed have a major burden to bear.
    I bet Melonia Trump could barely bare it.

  • “Mark William”: vigorously defending popes from critics since March 13, 2013.

    I think there is something up with this pontificate and some of the things Pope Francis says. I don’t confuse his austerity for humility. What’s humble about trying to find a way to get around from the teaching the Church has received from her Lord?

  • Hi ‘Jay’ – What happened to your previous effort? Did you change your mind? It was rather pointless, wasn’t it?

    Why am I commenting here?:-
    If you had bothered to read the comments, you would have seen that my opening comment was a simple statement to rebut someone who had claimed that Pope Francis is a hypocrite. For I don’t think that Francis is a hypocrite. And I don’t think that many Catholics believe this either. Most Catholics – indeed, most people – can see that Francis is a sincere and good man.

    Why are you commenting here?:-
    However, there are some people who do believe that Francis is a hypocrite. On the one hand, we have the atheists and haters of the Catholic Church; and, on the other hand, we have the ‘traditionalist’ wing of Catholics (including yourself), who hate everything about Francis’s view of Catholicism and who are working to undermine him. They and you make strange bed-fellows.

  • Don’t forget about your fellow travelers who don’t think Pope Francis is liberal enough. Like the commenter who thinks PF is a misogynist.

    Look, no one doubts Pope Francis is sincere, but only God knows what’s in his heart. Not sorry that I don’t see upending traditions of the church and practicing austerity equates to humility, which is an interior disposition. Humility doesn’t call attention to itself. We’ll see if Francis’ efforts bear forth good fruit, but it seems like it’s just trying to make the 1970s happen again. As much as they claim there’s a “Francis effect”, the only parts of the church that have any vibrancy are those embracing Catholic tradition.

  • Too many bishops historically have been smarmy autocratic misogynists and abuse coverupers. I recall hearing Cardinal Krol (“krol” is Polish for “king”) in the wake of Roe v Wade declaring that abortion violates God’s law (not so), natural law (not so), and the rights of rapist fathers. Aaaargh. – Edd Doerr

  • you mean the crucifix he hid in his clothing while meeting with jewish rabbis so as not to offend their sensibilities? that one?

  • I pray that the Servant of God’s Servants clearly discerns the Will of The Holy Spirit and governs accordingly. Also that he is deaf to all the devil’s exhortations.

  • No. You have failed to read this thread. The discussion was about “when Cardinal Bergoglio was elected Pontiff” and when “he came out on that balcony in St.Peter’s square”. See above.
    And how strange of you to be intervening now, on a nine-day-old (and presumably more or less extinct) discussion. Still, it takes all sorts, I suppose.

    Added:- But perhaps you mean the recent meeting (inter-faith, prayer for peace), September 20th, Assisi? that one?
    Pope Francis’s crucifix was on full view there too.

  • So how do you explain that Secularists, who hated religious Christians more than anyone, are the worst murderers in history? Secularists only survive by corrupting ignorant young people. They thrive when Christians fail to educate their children.

  • A rather interesting and novel view of history and secularism– by which I’m pretty sure you mean atheism, though it isn’t true about atheists, either.

    Hitler was not an atheist, nor was Nazism atheist. Germany was a Christian nation before, during, and after WWII, and is a Christian nation right this very minute, with Christian Democrats in charge.

    But you go ahead and believe whatever you wish. You already do.

  • Secularists are fundamentalists who follow a religion they’ve created from perverting the proper Christian concept of secularism (please see St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas More, Erasmus, etc.) by removing God and replacing him with their favorite god or pretending that we’re all gods ourselves.

    You’ve been taught Secularist myths. Despite getting my history degree at a Secularist university, we actually still looked at primary sources. I was able to get a view of history that didn’t involve the lenses of my Secularist teachers and professors who constantly lied to or deceived me.

    And give it a rest hypocrite. You clearly believe whatever you wish!

    You should try the primary sources some time!

    All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler’s private correspondences and other writings:

    Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:
    “National Socialism and religion cannot exist together…. The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity…. Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things.” (p 6 & 7)

    10th October, 1941, midday:
    “Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of.. human failure.” (p 43)

    14th October, 1941, midday:
    “The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death…. When understanding of the universe has become widespread… Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity…. Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity…. And that’s why someday its structure will collapse…. …the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little…. Christianity the liar…. We’ll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State.” (p 49-52)

    19th October, 1941, night:
    “The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.”

    21st October, 1941, midday:
    “Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer…. The decisive falsification of Jesus’ doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work… for the purposes of personal exploitation…. Didn’t the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, faggots? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it’s in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea.” (p 63-65)

    13th December, 1941, midnight:
    “Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery…. …. When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let’s be the only people who are immunised against the disease.” (p 118 & 119)

    14th December, 1941, midday:
    “[Hanns] Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don’t believe the thing’s possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself…. Pure Christianity– the Christianity of the catacombs– is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics.” (p 119 & 120)

    9th April, 1942, dinner:
    “There is something very unhealthy about Christianity.” (p 339)

    27th February, 1942, midday:
    “It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors– but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch in the next 200 years will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity…. My regret will have been that I couldn’t [eradicate it myself].” (p 278)

  • We can always count on fundelibangelists to be nice and respectful.

    Really! hitler’s Table Talk quotations. Very good! You see, I too went to a secular university, where we learned all about the many, many questions about these table talks, and what and who was doing which translation. One historian espousing your point of view proved the point entirely by using Google translate!

    Except that you changed the subject, from Germany being a Christian nation to hitler’s private viewpoints, possibly expressed to certain people over dinner while he bored them to death with his monologues.

    The best– the most charitable towards your viewpoint– one can conclude from the actual history of nazism in Germany, hitlers actual speeches and conduct, the public proclamations of the third reich and the churches in Italy and Germany, and these private monologues is that hitler eventually abandoned religion privately but continued to endorse it publicly, as he had done since the beginning of the nazi movement. Perhaps he just didn’t like the competition for ownership of men’s souls.

    The fact remains as I stated it. 1900 years of official Christian antisemitism led to the horrors of the third reich. Germany is and was a Christian nation, before, during, and after hitler, and he fully used those facts to get a Christian nation to do the previously unthinkable.

    Have a nice day, pussycat.

  • Are you serious? You think German is some little known language and we’re unsure how to translate Hitler’s modern German?
    You think they mistranslated phrases like “the best thing for Christianity is to die a natural death”?
    By the way, nice attempt to avoid the truth with a lie. There are plenty of German scholars who will confirm these quotes for you in German. The private correspondences of Hitler and his closest advisers are well-sourced (and much more trustworthy than quotes lifted from his propaganda speeches or German army belt buckles that had been around hundreds of years before Hitler’s birth).

    Christian kingdoms and nations were the first to protect Jews systematically. Hitler and his henchmen were very clear about severing the ties to Christianity. They only tolerated belief because it was impossible to wipe out all Christians–they needed them to fight and it was much easier to brainwash them.

    It is absolutely indisputable that Christians developed the modern educational system, modern science, humanism, secularism, etc. They also ended state sponsored slavery, initiated the Civil Rights Movement and the Suffrage Movement and did more charity than any other group in history.

    Secularists such as yourself, on the other hand, do less charity than any other group in history (because you’re all so selfish because so few of you believe in God) and you’re the worst murderers in history (for the same reason).

    God save your soul from Hell, brother!

  • What’s funny about it? (Never try to ask a Secularist “hipster” what’s actually funny about stupid “meme humor”–it’s so cringe inducing to watch the person try to explain it, but I guess I’m a glutton for punishment!:)

  • God save me from Christians like you. Oh, wait, I neither believe in hell nor God.

    The original 1953 book of table talk was found to have translations from the French translation of hitler’s table talks. This is known, but apparently, not to you.

    Christians protected Jews. I would suggest you look up the origins of the word “ghetto.” Then you can watch Fiddler on the roof.

    And none of this addresses a simple fact that you keep ignoring. Christian Germany initiated the holocaust.

  • Only a fool believes he’s a meat popsicle that comes from nothing for no reason.

    Christians just want to convert you. God wants to save you. Satan wants to make you squeal and cry until that pathetic little arrogance of yours is gone and nothing is left but the misery and hatred that is already driving your bitter attitude.

    Anyway, I’m not worried. You’ll die soon and find out. Then our little debate won’t matter.

    God save your soul from Hell!

  • Germany , under the Nazis, specifically separated church from state, you lying moron–that’s what the Concordat forced onto Christians in Germany in 1933–total separation with NO INPUT from church whatsoever OR ELSE Christians would have been prevented from worship. — kind of what lying creeps like you and satanist Madelyn Murray O’Hare did to our schools and nation in 1961. Hitler , as it turns out, hated Christianity because it was founded by a Jew, , planned to kidnap the pope for political purposes, and sent Christian Clergy who opposed him to death camps to die– by the thousands. Go back to kissing Satan’s and Obama’s arses.

  • The 2 pussies in your photo say a lot about you and your phony left loon “diversity”. It’s significant that the white one has a case of phony white guilt/privilege— how self-deprecating can one become? Oh, I forgot, it goes along with the Christian-hating, racist black race-baiting, Israel -hating, and clueless, naive- unmugged thought processes of Western Civ haters like yourself. Shouldn’t you be working for blm/sharpton or at least Teheran ?