View From Rome
12 October 2016
View from Rome
After the bloody battles of the last synod of bishops gatherings, Francis has decided the next one will focus on what might seem the safer topic of youth and vocations. But don’t be fooled: the Pope has ambitious plans for reform in this area, particularly when it comes to the training of priests and this is likely to top the agenda when the synod meets again in 2018.
He knows that if he is serious about tackling the root causes of clericalism then he needs to start with the seminaries, so often the breeding ground for inculcating the “princely” behaviour among clerics that the Pope is keen to avoid.
There is a pervasive mentality that says if a young man is training to be a priest – particularly in an elite, Rome-based college – he is somehow “set apart” from the rest and on the fast track for promotion. And on the streets of the Eternal City it is hard to avoid groups of men wearing long, black cassocks and gleaming white Roman collars.
Francis has already appointed the dynamic Archbishop Jorge Patrón Wong, a Mexican-Chinese prelate, to be in charge of seminaries in the Vatican’s clergy department and he has been preparing a text overhauling priests’ training, which is likely to recommend more robust discernment and “human-centred” formation.
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