The Pope has admitted that in the Church “we focus on sex and then we do not give weight to social injustice, slander, gossip and lies”.

“The Church today needs a profound conversion in this area”, he added.

Driving the news

Francis was speaking September 5 with Jesuits in Mozambique.

The transcript of that conversation was published today in the Vatican journal La Civiltà Cattolica.

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“Clericalism is a real perversion in the Church”, the Pope told the Jesuits gathered in the nunciature in Maputo.

“Clericalism… demands that the shepherd always stays ahead, sets a course, and punishes with excommunication those who stray from the flock. In short, the very opposite of what Jesus did”.

“Clericalism condemns, separates, beats and despises the people of God”, Francis decried.

He added that clericalism “has a direct consequence in rigidity”.

“Have you never seen young priests all stiff in black cassocks and hats in the shape of the planet Saturn on their heads?”, the Pope asked.

“Behind all the rigid clericalism there are serious problems”.

The Pope revealed that he had “to intervene recently in three dioceses with problems that expressed themselves in these forms of rigidity that concealed moral problems and imbalances”.


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The intrigue

Francis explained that the “hypocrisy” of clericalism – the confusion “of priestly ‘service’ with priestly ‘power'” – has as one of its consquences “the exclusive moral fixation on the sixth commandment”: ‘You shall not commit adultery’.

The Pope quoted from “a great Jesuit” who told him once “to be careful in giving absolution, because the most serious sins are those that are more angelical: pride, arrogance, dominion… And the least serious are those that are less angelical, such as greed and lust”.

“On the other hand, great shepherds give people a lot of freedom”, Francis added.

“The good shepherd knows how to lead his flock without enslaving it to rules that deaden people”.

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Why it matters

The Pope also spoke with Jesuits in Mozambique about the fear of the foreigner and the fear of the poor rampant in certain societies today.

“Xenophobia and aporophobia today are part of a populist mentality that leaves no sovereignty to the people”, Francis decried.

“Xenophobia destroys the unity of a people, even that of the people of God. And the people are all of us: those who were born in the same country, no matter whether they have their roots in another place or are of different ethnic groups”.

“Today we are tempted by a form of sterilized sociology, where you consider a country as if it were an operating theater, where everything is sterilized: my race, my family, my culture… as if there were the fear of dirtying it, staining it, infecting it”, the Pope said.

“There are those who want to stop this very important process of mingling cultures, which gives life to people”, Francis lamented, adding that “building walls means condemning yourself to death”.

“We can’t live asphyxiated by a culture as clean and pure as an operating theatre, aseptic and not microbial”, he explained.

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For the record

Francis was also asked by a young Jesuit about if and how his experience of God has changed since he was elected Pope.

“I guess my experience of God hasn’t fundamentally changed. I remain the same as before”, Francis replied.

“Yes, I feel a sense of greater responsibility, no doubt. My prayer of intercession has become much wider than before. But even beforehand I lived the prayer of intercession and felt pastoral responsibility”.

“I keep walking, but there’s not really been any radical change. I speak to the Lord as before. I feel God gives me the grace I need for the present time. But the Lord gave it to me before. And I commit the same sins as before”.

“My election as pope did not convert me suddenly, so as to make me less sinful than before. I am and I remain a sinner. That’s why I confess every two weeks”, the Pope admitted.

“The mere fact that I now dress all in white has not made me any less sinful or holier than before”.

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