24 March 2016
Christopher Lamb in Rome
Pope warns priests at Chrism Mass against spiritual blindness
Later today the Pope will wash the feet of twelve male and female refugees at a large centre for asylum seekers
Pope Francis has told priests that an “excess of complicated theology” has made them blind to God and called on clergy to break out of their “set ways” in order to serve the world’s oppressed.
During his homily during the Chrism Mass at St Peter’s Basilica today, the Pope urged priests to identify with the “great masses" of excluded people, including the poor, uneducated and prisoners.
Speaking directly to priests, the Pope said: “We too remember that each of us knows the extent to which we too are often blind, lacking the radiant light of faith, not because we do not have the Gospel close at hand, but because of an excess of complicated theology."
Francis also said that often priests feel trapped by a “digital, virtual worldliness that is opened and closed by a simple click”.
He went on: “We are oppressed, not by threats and pressures, like so many poor people, but by the allure of a thousand commercial advertisements which we cannot shrug off to walk ahead, freely, along paths that lead us to love of our brothers and sisters, to the Lord’s flock, to the sheep who wait for the voice of their shepherds.”
The problem for priests, the Pope added, is an excess of “bubbly” or “light” spirituality which distracts from the real “Living Water” of the gospel.
He instead urged them to become living witnesses of God’s mercy, stressing that it is better for “something to be wasted rather than one drop of mercy be held back”.
The Chrism Mass is a ritual that dates back to early Christianity and where the bishop and priests gather to renew their priestly promises and bless the oils which are used at baptism, anointing of the sick and ordination.
Later today the Pope will wash the feet of twelve male and female refugees at the Castelnuovo di Porto, located 16 miles north of Rome, which since 2007 has been offering assistance to asylum seekers.
According to the Vatican, Francis will celebrate Mass with some 892 migrants who want asylum in Europe and will wash the feet of eight men and four women. Three of these are expected to be Muslim, one a Hindu, five Catholic and three Orthodox.
This is the first Holy Thursday since the Pope’s changes were made to allow priests to wash the feet of both men and woman during the ritual, which recalls Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet.
The Pope has, however, washed the feet of women in the past on previous Holy Thursdays, including those of a Muslim woman.
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