Don’t be imposing, Pope Francis tells priests

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Pope Francis says, 'We do not want to be presumptuous, imposing 'our truths''

'DON'T BE IMPOSING.' Pope Francis gestures during a Mass with priests, seminarians, and the religious as part of the 28th World Youth Day in Brazil. Photo by EPA/Luca Zennaro/Pool

MANILA, Philippines – Tired of priests who impose “our truths” on the public? Well, Pope Francis also is.


In his homily on Saturday, July 27, Francis urged priests, seminarians, and the religious to show openness as “servants of communion and of the culture of encounter.”


“Permit me to say that we must be almost obsessive in this matter. We do not want to be presumptuous, imposing ‘our truths.’ What must guide us is the humble yet joyful certainty of those who have been found, touched, and transformed by the Truth who is Christ, ever to be proclaimed,” the Pope said in his Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Sebastian in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during World Youth Day.

Francis has made the “culture of encounter” a key theme of his papacy. The Pope mentioned it, too, last May 22, when he criticized “intolerant” believers and said good atheists exist. He said the culture of encounter is the foundation of peace.

The Pope, who has consistently stressed a more welcoming Church, also told priests and religious to form young people “in mission.”

He said: “Let us help our young people. Let us open our ears to their questions. They need to be listened to when in difficulty; of course patience is needed to listen, in confession and in spiritual direction. We need to know how best to spend time with them. Let us spare no effort in the formation of our young people!”

‘Not like hen with chicks’

The Pope said this, after all, is what Jesus also did with his disciples.

“He did not keep them under his wing like a hen with her chicks. He sent them out! We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people!” he said.

Francis continued: “Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church. They are the VIPs invited to the table of the Lord… go and look for them in the nooks and crannies of the streets.”

And how will priests and religious do this? First things first, said Francis: “This means returning to the source of our calling.”

“It is not pastoral creativity, or meetings or planning that ensure our fruitfulness, but our being faithful to Jesus, who says insistently: ‘Abide in me and I in you,’” the Pope said.

Since his first weeks in office, Francis has stressed the need for priests to “go out” to the outskirts. He said, “It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email