The Pope: Priests must serve the poor without worldliness and self-reference

In a meeting with the Pope, the Secular Institute for Priests Missionary for the Kingship of Christ, founded by Father Gemili 70 years ago. The plan for a training center under construction in Burundi has been donated to the pontiff: it will be registered in the name of Monsignor Michael Courtney, the nuncio who spent heavily on national pacification, and who died in the 2003 attack.

Antonella Palermo – Vatican City

Within the framework of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Secular Institute of Missionary Priests for the Kingship of Christ, founded by Father Agostino Gemili, Pope Francis receives a large representation of him in the Vatican. It is not an institute for religious people, but for diocesan priests who live in different places in obedience to their bishop, consecrated through vows of poverty, obedience, chastity and mission, according to the charism of the institute.

Self-reference and worldliness are also widespread among priests

In the letter As the Supreme Pontiff addresses them, the value of secularism in the life and ministry of priests is emphasized, making it clear that secularism is not synonymous with secularism. The Pope stresses that these priests have experimented in recent decades in this field, and they have also benefited from comparison with missionary sisters and missionary brothers in the Kingdom of Christ, an identity that makes serving others an expression of the Kingdom of Jesus. He calls on them to live faithfully to their vocation, while keeping at a distance two tendencies “that are widespread today, even among priests: self-reference and worldliness.” Francis explains that “none of us is completely immune to this disease,” however, he says, “we must acknowledge it and react with the grace of the Lord.” He adds:

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Secularism is one of the dimensions of the Church called to serve and bear witness to the Kingdom of God in this world. Consecration comes to radicalize this dimension, which is clearly not the only one, but rather a complement to the eschatological dimension. The Church, every baptized person, exists in the world, for the world, but is not of the world.


The Pope's greeting to the priests present

Serving in solidarity with the poor and excluded

The Franciscan charism, embodied in the work of the members of the Institute, is a charism minority: “In this way it trains you for humble and available fraternal service – the Pope notes – and It does so according to Christ's model of kingship, which is to serve, to give generously, to pay personally, and to stand in solidarity with the poor and marginalized.

Monarchy and minority: they are one in Christ, and Saint Francis bears witness to this. I like the expression of your prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where you say: “Let us be in solidarity and friends of the people, messengers of compassion and truth, so that the Gospel may become the heart of the world.” “Messengers of mercy and truth.” A beautiful expression that you repeat every day to confirm your apostolic vow, convinced that man, united to Christ in the Holy Spirit, is an apostle first and foremost by his humanity, with those human virtues described by the Second Vatican Council: fidelity. , respect for justice, fidelity to the word, kindness, discretion, firmness of mind, thoughtfulness, uprightness (see Dec. Optatam totius, 11).

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In Burundi, the training center dedicated to Monsignor Courtney

Francis expressed his pleasure at the presence today of one of the Institute’s brothers who comes from that continent, in line with the trend of this missionary reality, which has recently begun to include new members, especially priests from Guinea, Burundi, Rwanda and other African countries. Moreover, it is involved in establishing a training center in Burundi named after Monsignor Courtney, the nuncio who was killed there while working hard to bring about national peace. He died as a victim of an attack on December 28, 2003. The Pope obtained the plan for the center to be built in Kimina, near Bujumbura, which will be a place for spiritual formation and interfaith dialogue.

The Pope in a meeting with members of the Secular Institute

The Pope in a meeting with members of the Secular Institute

It took three years of work just to ensure the water supply, transporting water from three springs and also digging a canal for the benefit of the local people, because the chosen place is located on a rocky peak of a mountain at an altitude of 1000 meters above sea level, with a beautiful view of Lake Tanganyika, but there is no Springs. The center will also serve as a laboratory to teach rural residents techniques for rainwater recovery and wastewater purification, and will be powered by a new generation photovoltaic system.

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