05 November 2014, The Tablet

Francis attacks vanity of ‘peacock-like’ bishops

Pope Francis has criticised bishops who strut around “like peacocks” and live only for their “vanity”.

In his General Audience catechesis today the Pope was speaking about the role of bishops and collegiality. He departed from his script to add: “The bishop is not an honorary role, it is a service.”

“A worldly mentality speaks of a man who has an ‘ecclesiastical career and has become a bishop’. There should be no place for such a mentality in the Church. The bishop serves; it is not a position of honour, to boast about.”

Of the episcopal ministry the Pope said “one does not ask for it, it cannot be bought, one accepts it in obedience, not in an attempt to climb higher but to lower oneself, just as Jesus "humbled himself and became obedient unto to death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:8).

He added: “It is sad when we see a man who seeks this office and does all he can to get it and when he gets it does not serve, instead goes around like a peacock and lives only for his vanity.”

Francis also said that bishops were called “to express one single college, gathered around the Pope, who is the guardian and guarantor of this profound communion that was so dear to Jesus and His apostles themselves”.

Recalling last month’s Synod on the Family, he said it is beautiful when the bishops, with the Pope, express this collegiality, despite “living in places, cultures, sensibilities and traditions that are different and distant from each other”.

Two American bishops have criticised Pope Francis’ call for free and open discussions at the Synod, charging that the result was a confusing, Protestant-like gathering. A third, Cardinal Raymond Burke, outgoing head of the Apostolic Signatura, said that while he did not wish to speak out against Francis, “there is a strong sense that the Church is like a ship without a rudder.” 

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