Vatican City, 11 May 2014 (VIS) – Today is World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and Pope Francis presided this morning at a Mass for the ordination of thirteen new priests: six Italians, four from various countries in Latin America, one from Pakistan, one from South Korea and one from Vietnam.
The Bishop of Rome, who added various personal reflections to the Rite of Ordination, urged the new priests never to tire of being merciful, adding however that they are not the owners of the doctrine since this belongs to Christ.
“You, who are about to enter the priesthood, must consider that in exercising the ministry of the sacred doctrine, you will be participants in the mission of Christ, the sole master. Make use of all this, the Word that you yourselves have received with joy, from your mothers, from your catechists. Read and meditate on the word of the Lord assiduously, to believe what your have read, to teach what you have learnt in faith, to live what you have taught. May your doctrine, therefore, be nourishment to the people of God; yet it is not your doctrine, you are not its masters! It is the doctrine of the Lord, and you must be faithful to the doctrine of the Lord … since, by word and example you edify the house of God, the Church”.
“By Baptism you will add new faithful to the people of God; with the sacrament of penance you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. And here I want to pause to ask you, for the love of Jesus Christ, never tire of being merciful! Please! Have that capacity for forgiveness that the Lord had; He Who came not to condemn but to forgive! Have mercy, great mercy! And if you are worried about being too forgiving, think of that holy priest of whom I have spoken, who stopped before the tabernacle and said, 'Lord, forgive me if I have forgiven too much. But you have set me a bad example!'. And I say to you, truly, it pains me when I encounter people who no longer go to confession because they have been reproached and scolded. They felt as though the doors of the Churches had been closed in their faces. Please, do not do this: mercy, mercy! The good shepherd enters by the door, and the wounds of the Lord are the door of mercy: if you do not enter into your ministry through the Lord's wounds, you will not be good priests”.
The Pope concluded by quoting St. Augustine, when he spoke of the pastors “who sought their own pleasure, who used the Lord's sheep to feed and clothe themselves, to assume the majesty of a ministry that may or may not have been God's. Finally, participating in Christ's mission, as a leader and pastor, in filial communion with your bishop, commit yourselves to uniting the faithful in a single family, to lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, who came not to be served but to serve, and to seek and save what was lost”.