Pope Francis Warns Seminarians and Priests of Pornography "The pure heart, the one that Jesus receives every day, cannot receive this pornographic information." in FULL TEXT Q and A

 Audience with Seminarians and Priests studying in Rome, 26.10.2022
On Monday 24 October, the Holy Father Francis met the seminarians and priests studying in Rome in the Vatican.
Below is the Holy Father's dialogue with those present at the audience:
Dialogue of the Holy Father with Seminarians and Priests

Cardinals, Bishops, priests!
First of all, I apologize for the delay: I really apologize, but the problem is that it has been a bad day, because there have been visits from two Presidents of the Republic… Therefore this delay. It is a moment in which it is not easy to wait because at this time the stomach begins to be felt ... Let's move on.
When I entered I saw: this is a monument to the clerical state! Because you are so many, so many priests together, it is a pleasure. So we begin.
Holy Father, I would like to ask you for your advice on the spiritual direction of young priests. It is easy for priests to be spiritual guides for lay people, religious women and those who are still in formation. In my opinion, however, it is difficult for priests to seek spiritual direction from other confreres. How would you advise priests, especially young ones, to seek this spiritual help for their formation? Thank you.
Pope Francis
First of all, thank you for your interest, you asked 205 questions! If there is time, we will do ten, because this is a bit too much!
Thanks Dominique. The problem of spiritual direction - today a less directive term is used, spiritual "accompaniment", which I like -. Is spiritual direction, spiritual accompaniment compulsory? No, it's not mandatory, but if you don't have someone to help you walk, you'll fall, and you'll make noise. Sometimes it is important to be accompanied by someone who knows my life, and who does not need to be a confessor; sometimes it goes, but the important thing is that they are two distinct roles. You go to the confessor because you forgive your sins and you go preparing yourself for sins. Go to the spiritual director to tell him the things that are happening in your heart, the spiritual motions, the joys, the angers and what happens inside you. If you relate only to the confessor and not to the spiritual director, you will not know how to grow, it will be something wrong. If you relate only to a spiritual director, a companion, and you don't go to confess your sins, this is also wrong. They are two different roles, and in the schools of spirituality, for example the Jesuit one, Saint Ignatius says that it is better to distinguish them, that one is the confessor and another the spiritual director. Sometimes it is the same but they are two different things, which maybe one person does, but two different things.
According to. Spiritual direction is not a clerical charism, it is a baptismal charism. Priests who do spiritual direction have the charism not because they are priests, but because they are lay people, because they are baptized. I know that there are some of the Curia, perhaps some of you, who do spiritual direction with a nun who is good, who teaches at the Gregorian, she is good and she is the spiritual director. Go, no problem, she is a woman of spiritual wisdom who knows how to lead. Some movements perhaps have a wise layman, a wise layman. I say this because it is not a priestly charism. It may be a priest, but it is not exclusively of the priests. And to be a spiritual director you need a great anointing. For this reason, to your question, I would say: first of all, be sure that I must be accompanied, always. Because the person who is not accompanied in life generates "mushrooms" in the soul, the mushrooms that then bother you. Illnesses, dirty loneliness, many bad things. I need to be accompanied. Clarify things. Look for spiritual emotions, that someone help me understand them, what the Lord wants with this, where is the temptation ... I found some students of theology who could not distinguish a grace from a temptation; someone needs to accompany me. And this is not necessary to do it every week, no, you go to the spiritual director once a month, every two months, when you have matter to confer with him or her. But these things let them be clear.
How do you go about finding one? Be careful, you see someone who attracts you for the way he speaks, that you have heard from one, from the other ... Look for the spiritual director, but according to what I said, I think it is important: to distinguish from the confessor, they are two roles different; it is a lay charism, a priest, a bishop, a woman, a lay man can do it; and then find the person who arouses trust and spiritual sympathy in you. This is very important, you understand well what it means, that harmony that helps a lot.
I don't know if I answered. It's an important thing. What I say now serves at least so that none of you from now on will be without spiritual direction, without spiritual accompaniment, because it will not grow well, I say this from experience. All right? Is it clear to everyone? All right. Go on.
Holy Father, could you help us understand how we can be bridges between the world of faith and that of science in the ministry? What concrete advice can you give us who in pastoral practice have the responsibility of promoting a dialogue, certainly not a contrast between these two areas. Thank you.
Pope Francis
It is important not to deny the role of science, even of the science that goes on, the science that does research, it is important, it is very important. And people who study, but even if they are not office researchers, every person, thinks of university students, we must all be open to the concerns that come from students. First of all, I would say, listen, be open to problems. If you go down the path of the problem, you ask yourself: why? And you ask yourself several times. And you don't give one of those answers that were once used, in books made to answer all the difficulties against the Church, against our faith. These are answers that are useless, they are purely theoretical, and we cannot offer them as answers equal to a university student who is studying that specialty. We must give an answer to the height, worthy of man, and I think this is very important: looking with wide, wide horizons ... And you can say: "I don't know this, but you think about it ...; the proclamation of faith is this, on this point there are these horizons, look ... ". Always open, and guide him ... And you can also say: "I don't know how to answer, but go and find this person, this man, this woman, this priest, who is a specialist in this and can explain to you". Never close the door, never close. Even if they come to you with issues that you sense are not consistent with morality; if you can answer, answer; if you can't answer, look for someone who can do it and say: "You can talk about this with this one, with that other". But always open, always open. Because a defensive attitude closes the dialogue, closes the door. Open: “Yes, interesting…”.
We can answer most things because we know them. When university students come up with a doubt, I give you some advice: when they bring you a doubt from the university, for example, students - perhaps this is the sector of greatest work -, if possible, answer with another doubt , and so you are attentive and the same gesture that he makes to you you do to him, so that he does not feel too sure. "You ask me this, fine, but how is this for you?". This, Jesus often did, we see it in the Gospel. To a question that contained a trap, Jesus answered with another question, and left the interlocutor in the middle of the intellectual road. It is important to respond in this way, or, if it does not come, to orient to a person who can respond on that scientific aspect, that aspect that goes against the faith and to which perhaps I cannot answer. In most cases, I believe it can be answered. But - it is always a piece of advice I give you - do not answer "in the air": I answer you, you who ask me the question. If you compromise yourself with this question, I tell you this. Jesus did it. For example, when he healed on the Sabbath, he would say, “What about you? Don't you take the cow to give her a drink on Saturday? " (cf Lk 13:15). He showed him the contradiction in the question itself. When they are serious scientific things, which are beyond our ability, to say what we can and what we do not know; say: "About this you must ask someone who understands more of this science". Being humble, having faith is not having the answer to everything. That method of defending the faith no longer works, it is an anachronistic method. Having faith, having the grace to believe in Jesus Christ is to be on the way. And that the other understands that you are on a journey, that you do not have all the answers to all the questions. There was a time when defense theology was fashionable and there were books with questions to defend. When I was a boy, that was the method of defending oneself. They are answered, some good, others closed but not good for dialogue. "Have you seen? I answered you, I won ”. No, it doesn't work. The dialogue with science is always open. And to say: I don't know how to explain it to you, but you have to go to these scientists, to these people who will perhaps help you. Escaping from the religion / science contrast, because this is a bad spirit, it is not the true spirit of human progress. Human progress will advance science and also keep the faith.
Dear Pope Francis, in this time of preparation in Rome, how can we live our ministry without losing that "smell of the sheep" proper to our priestly ministry? Thank you.
Pope Francis
Whether for those of you who are studying, or for those who work in the Curia or have some employment, it is not a good thing for spiritual health not to have contact with the holy people of God, presbyteral contact. For this reason, I advise, indeed, I tell the Prefects to look if someone does not have this ministry on Saturdays and Sundays, in a parish or wherever, to be careful and to invite them to do so; and if he doesn't, be careful and we'll talk about it. It is important to maintain contact with the people, with the faithful people of God, because there is the anointing of the people of God: they are the sheep and, as you say, you can lose the smell of the sheep. If you push them away, you will be a theorist, a good theologian, a good philosopher, a very good curial who does all things, but you have lost the ability to smell sheep. Indeed, your soul has lost the ability to let itself be awakened by the smell of the sheep. This is why I believe it is important - I would say necessary, indeed, obligatory - that each of you have a weekly pastoral experience, at least. In a parish, in a home for boys or girls, or for the elderly, whatever it is, but contact with the people of God. And I say to the Prefects: see if there is anyone who does not do it: not to punish him, but to talk to him, because it is important, and he is losing a great strength, a great strength of the priestly life.
I like to talk to the priests of the "four neighborhoods". Closeness to God: do you pray? Closeness to the bishop: how is your closeness to the bishop? Are you one of those who gossip about the bishop or "the farther the better"? Or are you close to the bishop and go to discuss with the bishop? Third: closeness between you. It is interesting, it is one of the things that are found both in seminaries and in presbyters: the lack of true fraternal closeness between priests. Yes, everyone with a big smile, but then they leave and in small groups they peel each other. This is not closeness, this is a lack of fraternity. And the fourth: closeness to the people of God. If there is no closeness to the people of God, you are not a good priest. And that closeness is maintained and exercised with the ministry - in this case, weekly.
Good morning, Holy Father. The priest is a sign of God's love for men. However, unfortunately, many times this sign is disfigured due to our shortcomings. Holiness, how can we find a balance between the experience of mercy for our shortcomings and the effort to live virtue and reach holiness? What, in your opinion, are the most urgent aspects in the formation of seminaries that must be emphasized and taken into consideration so that today's seminarians, but also those of tomorrow, can respond to God's call?
Pope Francis
Thank you. There are two different things in what you said. Earlier you used a word that I don't like - I don't blame you, you used it, but I don't like it -: the word "balance". Life is not a balance, dear, it is not a balance. And if you find someone who thinks: “I am perfectly balanced”, I would say to this: you are nothing! Because the balance, that the one who works in the circus does it, who does those things, who does the tightrope walker. But life is a continuous imbalance, because life is walking and finding, finding difficulties, finding beautiful things that carry you forward and these always unbalance you. Indeed, if you have some practices to do, it is true, you need a balance in the practice, but that your affective one is not lacking, so to speak, which balances you on both sides, and say: "I I feel about this part ”. But balance in life is also balance with the experience of forgiveness and mercy for sin. But thank God that we are sinners, dear, and thank God that we need to go every week or every fortnight - I do it every fortnight - to the confessor to forgive us. And this is a great imbalance because it leads you to humility. The Christian life is a continuous walking, falling and getting up. Walking a little, just a little with others: there is no timetable. Of course, you put the navigator on the car there and go. There are prayer tips, things that help you grow. This is the imbalance. Indeed, I would say the opposite: how to live in imbalance, in the daily imbalance. Don't be afraid of imbalance: we are human. And in the imbalance to make discernment. A "balanced" person cannot make discernment, because he has no motions of spirit. In the imbalance there are motions of God that invite you to something, to the will to do good, to get up after falling into sin… Knowing how to live in imbalance: a different balance is brought there. I would speak of a dynamic equilibrium, which is not I who can hold it: the Lord holds it up. He goes ahead with you, with the anointing of the Spirit. This is about balance and imbalance.
Then, the formation of the seminaries. I believe that here the Cardinal [Prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy] can speak better than me about seminaries because in the Dicastery they are specialists. For example, I begin by saying: the seminary must belong to a certain number of seminarians, who together make people say "the community". “No, we are five in the diocese”: this is not a seminary, this is a parish movement. The seminar must be a number - 25, 30 - a moderate number. If there are 200, divided into small communities: a human number of groups, of communities, this is important. The big seminars - 300, all together - no longer go! They were the expression of another era. No, small communities where you work, but small communities inserted in a larger one.
The formation of seminarians: seminarians must have a good spiritual formation. “I'm going to the seminary, I'm learning philosophy, theology…”. Yes, but the spirit, what is it? First of all, a good spiritual formation. Even in the preparatory. The purpose of the propaedeutic today is this: to accustom the seminarian to spiritual discernment, spiritual formation, science, the sciences of the spirit. Second, a serious intellectual training. This does not mean that they are masters of ideas, no. That they know how to reason and that they know basic theology, with this I am calm, and it takes four years for basic theology. Let them know this. But with a beautiful spiritual formation. For this reason it is sometimes necessary to aggregate small seminar communities into one, so that there are suitable professors and formators. I said spiritual and intellectual. Now: community. In small groups, yes, but community life, they must learn to live in community, and not fall into criticism of one another, in the "parties" within the presbytery, and all this. This is learned in a seminar. And then, the apostolic life. Each seminary has its own practice of the apostolic life. Usually, on weekends they go to the parish: this is very important, because apostolic life also gives you this ability, "the smell of the sheep" you spoke of. It gives you the ability to situate yourself in reality. And maybe you have to go with a neurotic parish priest, to a parish where there are problems, and you will see how to handle this. And the people of the parishes where you go know you better - at times - than your superiors. My experience: when I asked for information to promote someone to orders, both to the diaconate and to the presbyterate, when I was a Jesuit, I asked the coadjutor brothers, many but always the coadjutor brothers and the people of the parish; and the best information did not come to me from the professors: it was good, but the best came from the coadjutor brothers and from the women of the parishes. It is curious: they have the nose. I remember a case, a good, intelligent boy who had to be ordained a deacon, I remember this well. A woman from the parish told me: "I would make him wait a bit because he is good, he has all the qualities, but there is something that does not convince me". That's enough. And a coadjutor brother told me: “Father, make him wait a year, it won't hurt him”. The others, all incense. I followed that path, and after four months he left at his will: a crisis had erupted. This is important. God's people understand you well. Therefore, seminary formation has four things: spiritual formation must be serious, serious spiritual direction; serious intellectual training, not textbook; community formation among seminarians; and apostolic formation.
Holy Father, today's generation of priests and seminarians is immersed in the digital world and social media. How can we learn to use these tools as an opportunity to share the joy of being Christian, without forgetting our identity or being too exposed and arrogant? Thank you.
Pope Francis
I believe these things must be used, because it is a progress of science, they do a service to be able to progress in life. I don't use them because I arrived late, you know? When I was ordained a bishop, 30 years ago, they gave me one, a cell phone, which was like a shoe, that big, right? I said, "No, I can't use this." And finally I said, "I'll make a call." I called my sister, greeted her, then returned her. "Give me another thing". I was unable to use it. Why my psychology was wrong or I was lazy, no one knows. The only thing I was able to use is an Olivetti with memory, of only one line, which I bought when I was in Germany in an Angebot, 59 marks, nothing. And this helped me, and it remained in Buenos Aires, I have used it until now. It is not my world. But you have to use them, you have to use them only for this, as the help to move forward, to communicate: this is fine. But I cannot fail to speak here of the dangers, the dangers of watching the news here, there, there and around all day; or watch that program that interests me or that other, because you have everything in hand ... Or play this music that interests me and that doesn't let me work ... You have to know how to use it well. And on this there is also another thing, which you know well: digital pornography. I say this very clearly. I will not say: "Raise your hand if you have had at least one experience of this", I will not say it. But each of you thinks if you have had the experience or had the temptation of pornography in the digital world. It is a vice that has so many people, so many lay people, so many lay women, and also priests and nuns. The devil enters from there. And I'm not just talking about criminal pornography such as child abuse, where you see cases of abuse in vivo: this is already degeneration. But a bit of "normal" pornography. Dear brothers, pay attention to this. The pure heart, the one that Jesus receives every day, cannot receive this pornographic information. Which are on the agenda today. And if you can delete this from your mobile phone, delete it, so you won't have the temptation in hand. And if you can't cancel it, defend yourself well not to get into this. I tell you, it is something that weakens the soul. It weakens the soul. The devil enters from there: he weakens the priestly heart.
Excuse me if I come down to these details on pornography, but there is a reality: a reality that touches priests, seminarians, nuns, consecrated souls. You have understood? All right. This is important.

Pope Francis, in recent years in Rome, together with a brother of mine, we have followed a group of young people after Confirmation in a nearby parish. We both come from other countries. One day a young man told me: "But did you realize that he - referring to the other brother - speaks Italian better than you? Instead, you use your hands and gestures better ”. With this observation of a boy, I understood that speaking well in evangelization is just as good as accompanying the speech with your hands. The words are as important as the gestures and perhaps for Italians it is the gestures that accompany the words. In formation towards the priesthood they teach us a lot how to speak, how to use words and speech well, to make a coherent philosophical discourse, to interpret Scripture, to give a good sermon in the Church. However, you, Holy Father, showed us the importance of gestures, works, concrete tenderness, and how powerful the gestures are, how eloquent our gestures are. I see how she embraces the suffering, and how much I would like to do it too. I see how he kisses the sick, and how much I would like to do it too. I see how it touches the needy, and how much I would like to do it too. I know that gestures are not learned overnight, and I know that I will never be a priest who preaches by example if I do not learn the language of gestures from today. How did you learn these gestures of mercy? How can we also get to the seminary, how can we learn this very important language?
Pope Francis
Thank you. Where I learned the gestures ... Well, the gestures, life teaches you. For example, one thing I have learned from personal experience is that when you go to visit a sick person who is sick, you don't have to talk too much. Take his hand, look him in the eye, say a few words and stay like that. In the surgery they did to me, in which they removed a part of my lung when I was 21, all my friends, aunts, everyone came to talk: "Go, go you'll recover soon, you'll talk, you can play another time…". I liked it, but I was fed up with it. One day the nun who had prepared me for my first communion, Sister Dolores, a good old woman, came and took my hand, looked into my eyes and said: "You are imitating Jesus", and she said nothing more. . She that she consoled me. Please, when you go to a sick person, do not fill with motives with promises of the future. The gesture of closeness speaks more with presence than with words.
A gesture I showed you. Gestures are learned; you will learn the gestures of tenderness with the old, going to the old. The first day you will greet them like this, from a distance. After two, three times you go, you will caress them, the old men. Let go, let yourself be expressed. Let the expression be total. Even in the sermon. I once called a niece. "How are you?" - it was a Sunday, sometimes on Sundays I call my sister - “How are you?”. "Well, well, but a little bored because we went with her husband and her children to Mass in that unusual parish and I heard a beautiful 40-minute philosophical explanation, but nothing from the Word of God!". If you are not human with gestures, the mind also stiffens and in the sermon you will say abstract things that no one understands, and someone will be tempted to go out to smoke a cigarette and come back, as it is done ... There are three languages ​​that make you see the maturity of a person: the language of the head, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. And we must learn to express ourselves in these three languages: that I think what I feel and do, feel what I think and do, do what I feel and think. Here I use the word balance: a balance between these things. Sometimes you feel like playing a joke on someone, and it comes to you, but ... let it be the gesture with the thought and the heart and the hands.
 When I see sick children - "how much children suffer", said Dostoevsky - sick children, there, caress them ... Someone can accuse you of being a pedophile, but no, no, out of this possible accusation. Like old people who need caresses ... I remember that I often went to Buenos Aires to retirement homes, and sometimes I celebrated Mass. Old people are brilliant, because they ask you the most demanding questions ... And at mass I would say: "Which of you takes communion?". And I passed, because they cannot walk many times, they are old, they go with the cane. And I went: “Whoever wants to receive Holy Communion, raise your hand”. Everyone raised their hand… I give communion to a lady, then she takes my hand: “Thank you, father, I'm Jewish”. "But what I gave you was also Jewish, go ahead." Old people want caresses, they want you to listen to them, they want you to talk about their times, and you will learn a lot. The tenderness. Here we fall into God's style. God's style is closeness. He himself says it in Deuteronomy: "Think, which people have their gods as close as you have me?" (see chapter 4). Closeness is God's style. He became close in the incarnation of Christ. It is close to us. Always closeness. But a closeness with compassion, because he always forgives, and with tenderness. A good priest is close, compassionate and tender. Certainly it is more pleasant to caress a beautiful girl than an old lady - be careful there! - but tenderness grows and is better expressed in opposites, both in children, with the little children who call you, and with the elderly, but ... you learn ... Once a professor of philosophy of mine - he was a great spiritual father, he published many books also on exercises and they are translated into Italian, Father Fiorito - one day he gave a lecture on behaviors, the philosophical foundations, but he immediately slipped on spirituality, and one of his questions I would ask all of you, seminarians, theologians: do you play with children? Can you play with children? He always asked his parents this question, he said: "Do you, dad, when you come back from work, or do you mum play with your children?". Tenderness is learned with children and with the elderly. It is the habit of keeping old people away because they disturb us, this takes us away from one of the sources of tenderness. God's style, don't forget, is always closeness, compassion and tenderness. And if you are close, with compassion and tenderness, you are on the right path. Tenderness is not "doing good". Sometimes in doing good you can slip into being stupid. No. Tenderness is what I said. 
Good morning Holy Father. I would like to ask my question starting from two important events of the universal Church: the 400 years of Propaganda fide at the service of mission and evangelization and then the Synod of Bishops with the theme "Communion, participation and mission". How can we young seminarians get out of our "comfort" to evangelize other young people? What are the challenges for us young people who want to become priests in today's world? Thank you. 
Pope Francis
 There is no method for this. You use a very clerical word, "comfort". That is, do not disturb the priest, the priest is busy, comfort leads priests many times to seek their own tranquility: I receive from time to time ... Once a good parish priest in a neighborhood told me that he wanted to do a wall where the window was, because people at any time went and knocked on the window because they needed this, that, that, a prayer, a Mass ... And I said: "And you made the wall on the window? ". He said: "No, I can't, father, without people I'm not a priest." Nice answer that, nice! The comfort. There is a figure that has always struck me, the comfortable priest, a bit of the "monsieur l'abbĂ©" of the French courts, an official - you who work in the curia be careful! -, the official priest. The official priest lives the priesthood as if it were a job. He is comfortable, he has his schedules, this is up to me, this is not ... And so with the growth he turns into a "spinster", with many manic habits, he is a daily neurotic. Be careful, be careful of this. Don't seek your own comfort; the priesthood is a sacred service to God, the service of which the Eucharist is the highest grade, is a service to the community. If you don't feel like it, talk to the bishop, maybe you will be a good family man, but please don't be a civil servant. This is the convenience you speak of.
There is another thing that accompanies this convenience, it is the "climbing" dimension, the climbing priests, who make a career. I think they can be seen… In the curia no, in the curia it doesn't happen! But elsewhere it happens ... When you are about to make a change, there comes, come on, come on, come on ... the climber. Please stop, stop. Because the climber is ultimately a traitor, he is not a servant. He seeks his own advantage and then does nothing for others. I had a grandmother who liked to give us normal "catechesis", she was a migrant and migrants, over time, Italian migrants, came to America and did the house and the education of their children ... And the grandmother taught us: "In life you must progress ”, that is, immediately the bricks, the earth, the house, progress, that is, make a position, a family and he taught us this. But be careful not to confuse progress with climbing, because the climber is one who climbs, climbs, climbs and when he is up he shows the ... Grandma said the word! She shows you, he is like that, he shows you that. The only thing climbers do is ridicule, they do ridicule. This has done me good in life. Indeed, when the information for the bishops comes - you are in the Congregation of Bishops and you know how things are going -, immediately the information of the companions: this is a climber, this is looking for the place ... Be careful, that is, the comfort and the climbing, making a career. When I was young it was used in Spanish and I don't know if it is used in Italian: this has chosen the priestly "career". A career as a doctor, as a lawyer ... Today it is no longer used, thank God, but the climber has a career, be careful, be careful; and if you have a companion like that, help him to stop, not to climb, because in the end he will show the worst of himself. And the climber is never satisfied.
Communion, participation and mission. Yes, if you have communion you think of others, if you have participation you share with others, if you have a mission you think of others. Always service, serve. Service, even the liturgical one is a service. To serve others, not one's own comfort. I believe that I am not getting any more on this. You have clearly understood the danger of seeking your own pleasure and tranquility and the danger of climbing, and unfortunately there are many careerists in life. Many. Please, if any of you have this temptation, stop, ask for advice to stop it.
Good morning, Holy Father. Thank you very much, Your Holiness, for this wonderful opportunity to be with you. The vocational journey of a seminarian is always one that always consists in discerning his vocation. From my experience and from what I know of the experience of others, at times - or more often than not - one realizes one's own weaknesses, one feels the fear of not being able to satisfy the demands of the priestly vocation, the fear of not being happy in the ministry. Or even, he feels he is attracted not primarily by the love of God, but by other less important details that characterize the priesthood, and so on. However, at the same time, one strongly feels the call of God within himself and from the circumstances that characterized his journey. In this type of situation, Your Holiness, what could be the right path for a seminarian to follow in his discernment process? More generally: what does right discernment consist of? Thank you very much, Holy Father.
Pope Francis
Thank you. Right discernment - first of all I tell you - does not consist in a balance, it does not consist in this. That does the scales. Discernment is always "unbalanced", sorry, the situation on which you have to discern is unbalanced, because you have emotions on this side, emotions on this side, emotions on there ... The right discernment is to look for how this imbalance finds the way to God - not " finds balance ”- because the imbalance is always resolved on a higher level, not on the same level. And this is a grace of prayer, a grace of spiritual experience. Go before the Lord with an imbalance, helped by a brother if you want, and prayer, the search to do God's will leads you to resolve the imbalance, but on another level. It always carries you forward, takes you out of the contradiction of the imbalance - which is not a mathematical contradiction, it is a human contradiction - and takes you one step further. An imbalance is not resolved with only one of the parties, no. They both change to a new situation. And this is the grace of spiritual accompaniment, which helps us find this way to resolve imbalances.
“In this type of situation what could be the right path for a seminarian to follow in his discernment process?”. What I said about discernment. Prayer and dialogue with the person who accompanies you, whether he is a priest, a friend, a nun, a layman, whoever he is. Prayer and dialogue.
“More generally, in what does right discernment consist?”. Proper discernment does not consist in the fact that the result is a balance. You see right discernment later. The decision is harmonious, not "balanced". Balance is one thing, harmony is another thing. They are different things. Balance is a mathematical, physical thing; harmony is a thing of beauty, if you want to say that. Balance is making a comparison of the parties and finding a compromise; harmony, in discernment, is the gift of the Holy Spirit: the only one who can bring about harmony is the Holy Spirit. It is a gift. Saint Basil defined the Holy Spirit as "ipse harmonia est". He is harmony. We are already entering into discernment with the Holy Spirit within. You cannot do Christian discernment without the Holy Spirit. And for this the imbalance enters into prayer, enters the path of the Holy Spirit, and He leads you to a new harmonious situation. And then you can enter another disharmony, and it will be the Spirit that will take you further. It is not a physical thing, it is not an intellectual thing, it is not a sentimental thing: it is the grace of receiving the Holy Spirit, which is harmonious. And with prayer we arrive at this grace of understanding the harmony of the Spirit. I don't know if I answered this well. Tell me: do you understand? It is not about balancing like a scale in discernment, no: about praying, moving forward and letting the Spirit with the inner emotions move forward.
And then, what is the result of right discernment? Spiritual consolation. The Holy Spirit, when he gives you harmony, comforts you. Instead, when you are with a problem, you are not in consolation, you are in desolation. We must learn to use, in our life, the emotions of the Spirit, consolation and desolation: this is good for me, this makes me happy, this takes away my peace… What the Lord does in my heart and what the devil does. Because the devil exists! Saint Peter says that he goes round, round, round to find someone to eat. It is our danger. But the Spirit is the guide. And this is the way: to follow the Holy Spirit.
[Addressed to Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik] I would like to answer the tenth question again, because it belongs to a Ukrainian, and his homeland suffers.
Your Holiness, Pope Francis, yes, I am a Ukrainian priest. Today we see how in the contemporary world there are many wars and armed conflicts, in particular the war in Ukraine. I would like to ask you: what is the role that the Catholic Church must play in the territories affected by the wars, and what would be the task of the priests in those regions? Thank you.
Pope Francis
Thank you. The Catholic Church - the Church, the holy mother Church - is mother, mother of all peoples. And a mother, when her children are in a quarrel, suffers. The Church must suffer in the face of wars, because wars are the destruction of her children. As a mother suffers when her children do not get along or quarrel and do not speak to each other - small domestic wars - the Church, the mother Church in the face of a war like this in your country, must suffer. She has to suffer, cry, pray. You must assist people who have had bad consequences, who lose their homes or war wounds, deaths… The Church is a mother and the role above all is closeness to the people who suffer. She is the mother, she is like a mother.
And then she is also a creative mother of peace: she tries to make peace in certain moments… In this case it is not very easy, but the open heart of Mother Church… You Christians do not take sides in this. It is true that there is one's homeland, this is true, we must defend it. But to go further, beyond that: a more universal love. And Mother Church must be close to everyone, to all the victims. Indeed, to pray for the sin of the aggressors, for this reason that he comes here to ruin my homeland, to kill my parents: do I pray for this? And this is a Christian attitude. You suffer so much, your people, I know, they are close. But pray for the attackers, because they are victims like you. You don't see the wounds they have in their souls, but pray, pray that the Lord will convert them and want peace to come. This is important.
Good morning. Holy Father, good morning and thank you. The Ratio fundamentalis reminds us that the first area in which ongoing formation is developed is priestly fraternity. In fact, a united presbytery in which priests and their bishop support each other, celebrate the joys and suffer the difficulties of the other, would help to make the presbytery a space for formation and communion. What advice can you give us, starting from your experience as a pastor, to create more fraternal relationships in the presbyterate that help us to face the challenges of the present time? Thank you, Holiness.
Pope Francis
There are so many things. First of all, closeness and talking to each other, don't distance yourself. To the bishops I say: priests are your first neighbor, stay close to priests. I tell them: "I hear a priest tell me: I called the episcope to speak with the bishop and the secretary told me that this month is full, perhaps next month ..."; I think this bishop is ruining the priests. Nearness. For example, the recently appointed archbishop of Naples, what did he do? He gave the phone number to all the priests - there are more than a thousand Neapolitans -. "Do they harass you?" - “No, no, but when they need them they call me directly”. This closeness is valid for the priest with the bishop and also for the priest with others. I don't know if this happens here, but in my homeland it happens, that there are groups of priests who gossip about others, and there are those on the right, those on the left, those here and there ... This is a poison . It is a poison, a worm that kills the presbyteral body. Unity among priests. And if you don't have pants to say things to someone's face, you eat it. But you don't go hungry by criticizing your brother priest, no. This is not for men. The man goes and says things as they are. With charity and with love. And if he can't tell you why the other one is a bit violent, tell the bishop that he is the father of all. But don't tell everyone else. This closeness is needed to prevent the priestly body from ending badly. And the bishop, support each other. Sometimes the bishop is a bit of a "maniac", he has his own things, because even the bishops are men! And I finish with this, on how to deal with the bishop, with a story, which was also told by the grandmother. There was a very nice family, but the grandfather who lived with them aged, aged, and drool began to fall while he ate and got dirty. And one day the father said to the family: “From tomorrow, the grandfather will eat in the kitchen. I made a nice table, grandfather will go there, and so we can invite people and he on one side ". A few days pass and the father returns from work and sees his six-year-old son working with nails, wood ... "What are you doing?" - "A coffee table, dad!" - "Because?" - “For you, for when you are old!”. The old people, thus, step aside. Please try to get to know the bishop as dad. And if someone has the opportunity to tell him the defects, tell him, as to the father. He is the father, he is not an enemy nor the boss of the company.
Thanks a lot, dear! Now let us pray to Our Lady to help us all.
[Angelus domini ...]
And maybe next time, we'll see the 198 questions that are left.