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Pope Francis stresses the importance of priestly formation for evangelization

Pope Francis welcomes participants in a Course for Rectors and Formators of Latin American Seminaries (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope Francis insisted on the importance of priestly formation for evangelization, in the address to the rectors and formators of Latin American Seminaries on the morning of November 10.

Pope Francis insisted, “All priestly formation, particularly that of future pastors, is at the heart of evangelization.”

The formators were participating in a course in Rome organized by the Dicastery for the Clergy.

The Pope defined the priestly formation as acknowledging and integrating both human weakness and divine grace and leading seminarians on a journey of “faith and integral maturity,” by following in the example of Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis acknowledged that the seminarians and future priests are “fellow disciples,” like all the Christian faithful, with human needs and weaknesses while recalling the importance of the human dimension of formation.

While recognizing the “unique, integral, communitarian, and missionary” thrust of the current program, Pope Francis stressed the continuity between the formation guidelines developed by his immediate predecessors.

The Pope noted that the communitarian aspect of formation requires a greater commitment to creating or consolidating “inter diocesan, provincial, or regional seminaries,” with a sufficient number of formators and seminarians to form a real community.

The Church Leader stressed the important role of formators and told them to teach “more by [the example of] their own lives than by their words” with human maturity because their own lives are the “fundamental factors” at their disposal “to make their service to seminarians and other priests effective.”

Pope Francis urged the formators to continually renew their own configuration to Christ. Their “ability to listen and the art of dialogue,” is rooted in dialogue with God in prayer.

To the rectors the Pope said, “The rector must show a constant concern for each of the formators, maintaining an open and sincere dialogue about their life and service,” by helping them to overcome difficulties in their sometimes-challenging ministry.

On behalf of the whole Church, the Pope thanked rectors and formators, “for dedicating [their] life and ministry to the future pastors who will be your brothers in the presbyterate and who, united and under the guidance of the Bishop, will cast the nets of the Gospel as authentic fishers of men.”   - With inputs from Vatican News


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