Candidates for the Priesthood Must Be Well Scrutinized: Pope Francis

Pope Francis meets with members of the editorship of the theological magazine La Scuola Cattolica at the Vatican's Consistory Hall, June 17, 2022. Vatican Media.

Pope Francis spoke on Friday about the importance of scrutinizing candidates for the priesthood to ensure that the men who reach ordination are well-formed and mature.

In a meeting with seminary formators from the Milan archdiocese on June 17, the pope said that the process of accompanying those discerning vocations to the priesthood required sensitivity and expert skill.

“When discerning whether or not a person can embark on a vocational journey, it is necessary to scrutinize and evaluate him in an integral way: to consider his way of experiencing affections, relationships, spaces, roles, responsibilities, as well as his frailties, fears, and imbalances,” Pope Francis said.

“The whole journey must initiate processes aimed at forming mature priests and consecrated persons, who are ‘experts in humanity and closeness’ and not ‘officials of the sacred.’”

Pope Francis underlined that each man brings with him a unique family, personal, and spiritual history to the seminary.


“Sexuality, affectivity, and relationships are dimensions of the person to be considered and understood, by both the Church and science, also in relation to socio-cultural challenges and changes,” he said.

“An open attitude and good witness allow the educator to ‘encounter’ the whole personality of the ‘called one,’ engaging his intelligence, emotions, heart, dreams, and aspirations.”

To achieve this outcome, seminary formators themselves must be growing daily “toward the fullness of Christ,” the pope said, so that the charity of Christ may be more clearly manifested in them.

“Seminarians and young people in formation should be able to learn more from your life than from your words; to be able to learn docility from your obedience, industriousness from your dedication, generosity with the poor from your sobriety and availability, fatherhood from your chaste and non-possessive affections. We are consecrated to serve the People of God, to take care of all, starting with the poorest,” Pope Francis told the priests.

“Suitability for ministry is tied to availability, joy, and generosity toward others. The world needs priests who are able to communicate the goodness of the Lord to those who have experienced sin and failure, priests who are experts in humanity … men who know how to listen to the cry of those who suffer.”

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Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.