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Speaking to the powerful Italian bishops’ conference Monday, Pope Francis tagged three “preoccupations” in the only country in the world where he rules as Primate: a “hemorrhage” of vocations, “evangelical poverty and transparency,” and the need for a “consolidation” of Italy’s sprawling number of dioceses.
Francis told the bishops he wasn’t sharing these concerns to “beat you up,” but rather as points for further “dialogue and reflection.” He also said he wanted to hear their questions, even their criticisms, because “it’s not bad to criticize the pope, it’s useful.”
Vocations - Pontiff - Words
On vocations, the pontiff didn’t mince words.
“How many churches and convents have been closed in recent years for a lack of vocations, only God knows,” he said.
Francis - Crisis - Vocations - Factors - Culture
Francis blamed the crisis in vocations on many factors, including “a culture of the provisional,” a “culture of relativism,” the “dictatorship of money”, a “demographic inversion” in which families are having fewer children, the impact of Church scandals, and the “tepid witness” given by some priests and bishops.
In any event, the pontiff said frankly, “we’re not succeeding” at generating a sufficient number of new vocations.
Response - Francis - Step - Dioceses
In response, Francis suggested one “practical” step, which is a “more generous sharing” among Italian dioceses.
“What we need is a fidei donum [system] from one diocese to the other,” he said.
Term - Fidei - Donum - Encyclical - Pope
The term fidei donum comes from a 1957 encyclical of Pope Pius XII, which encouraged dioceses with substantial numbers of priests to release some of them for service in mission countries which didn’t have enough priests. Today, it’s most often employed in a reverse sense, as countries in the developing world are sending some of their priests to the West to compensate for priest shortages.
“I think of some dioceses in the Piedmont, with its grand tradition [which today lacks priests],” Francis said, referring to a region of northern Italy. “Yet in Puglia there’s...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Crux
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