VATICAN CITY — In another strongly worded message to the Catholic hierarchy, Pope Francis on Thursday (Feb. 27) told the Vatican body that vets nominees for bishops that they need to find him better candidates to send to dioceses around the world.
“To choose such ministers we all need to raise our sights, to move to a higher level,” Francis told the Congregation for Bishops, the critical department of the Roman Curia that acts as a clearinghouse for bishop nominees. “We can’t do anything less, and we can’t be content with the bare minimum.”
On consecutive days last weekend, Francis delivered stern warnings to 19 new cardinals he appointed to join about 150 others in the College of Cardinals: On Saturday (Feb. 22), he told them to avoid “rivalry, jealousy, factions,” and at a Mass in the Vatican on Sunday (Feb. 23), he said they must reject “habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favoritism and preferences.”
Francis also has repeatedly called on clerics to live simply and humbly, and in his address Thursday to the cardinals and staff who make up the Congregation for Bishops, Francis said that self-denial and sacrifice are written into the bishop’s DNA.
He exhorted them to find “authentic” pastors who display “professionalism, service and holiness of life.”
Bishops, he continued, should be “guardians of doctrine, not to measure how far the world lives from the truth it contains, but to fascinate the world, to enchant the world with the beauty of love, to seduce it with the free gift of the Gospel.”
“The church doesn’t need apologists for their own agendas or crusaders for their own battles,” he added, “but humble and faithful sowers of the truth.”