At a conference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy, Pope Francis shared a few thoughts on the formation and role of priests.
One thing that he said struck me as particularly important:
“A good priest is first of all a man with his own humanity, who knows his own history – with its treasures and wounds – and has learned to make peace with it, gaining a profound serenity, characteristic of a disciple of the Lord,” he said. “Human formation is therefore needed for priests, so they may learn not to be dominated by their limits, but rather to put their talents to use.”
The idea of that priests are in need of human formation is important and I think that many people don’t see priests as human. Each priest is a man who has his own particular set of limitations and talents. Some are great homilists. Others are gentle and thorough confessors. Others have the gift of communicating the Gospel to a wider audience. Still others toil quietly in administrative jobs behind the scenes.
Whatever their gifts, these men need to take the time to understand themselves and find their place as servants in God’s kingdom. Pope Francis’ words on human formation emphasize that formation goes well beyond theological training and the practicalities of being a priest and pastor. The process of formation — in a way that doesn’t seem to exist in secular training — addresses the totality of the person being formed.