Pope Francis’ vision of episcopal leadership

Vatican Information Service reports on the words of Pope Francis to nuncios regarding episcopal appointments:

The Holy Father wanted to conclude his address by highlighting one of the principal and most delicate tasks of the representatives, to look for episcopal appointments: “be attentive,” he told them, “that the candidates are Pastors who are close to the people, fathers and brothers; that they are gentle, patient, and merciful; that they love poverty, interior poverty as freedom for the Lord and exterior poverty as simplicity and austerity of life; that they don’t have a ‘principles’ psychology. Be attentive that they aren’t ambitious, that they don’t seek the episcopate—’volentes nolumus’—and that they are spouses of a Church without constantly seeking another. That they are capable of ‘keeping an eye on’ the flock that will be entrusted to them, that is, of caring for everything that keeps it united; of being ‘vigilant’ over it; of being attentive to dangers that threaten it; but above all that they are capable of ‘keeping an eye over’ the flock; of keeping watch; of tending hope, that there is sun and light in their hearts; of sustaining with love and patience the plans that God has for his people.”

It’s a wonderful vision of pastoral leadership – not just for bishops, but for anyone in ministry.

What do you suppose he means by this “principles’ psychology that bishops should not have?



  1. Clearly the Pope’s measure of candidates for the episcopate (” … Pastors who are close to the people, fathers and brothers; that they are gentle, patient, and merciful; that they love poverty, interior poverty as freedom for the Lord and exterior poverty as simplicity and austerity of life … “) has already been applied to all the episcopal appointments of the past several years . . .

  2. Wow! That translation error is one BIG bad! Much more sensible and congruent when you read ‘princes.’ Thanks, Fr. Allan!

  3. A well-known confusion. The spelling in Italian for the English words “princes” and “principles” is the same. The difference in italian is conveyed by the syllable that gets accented.

    PRINcipi = princes; prinCIpi = principles

  4. una psicologia di ‘Principi’

    The odd thing is, VIS got it right in their English title, but not in the body of the article.

    Maybe they need a document that will guide them in their translations…

    “That there is sun and light in their hearts” is my favorite qualification.

  5. One can only hope that new criteria for choosing Bishops will be employed. We need fewer “princes” in the Church, and more servants.

  6. Just read some of the comments on the site RORATE-CAELI.BLOGSPOT.com
    Makes you realise just how far some people will go to vilify the testimony of Francis after only a hundred days. You really begin to wonder what makes some people tick. How come we get a fine light and all they want to do is to blow it out?

  7. I also just spent a little while reading rorate-caeli. Who are those people?They sound like they are living in a time warp. Are they SSPXers or just traditionalists pining for a return to the days of Pius IX?

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #8:
      RC combox denizens reflect a constellation of fissiparous constituencies, no less than one used to find among ultra-progressive Catholics. Always worth keeping an eye on that site, as it is typically the first big blogsite to report hot news-gossip out of Rome and elsewhere. More frequently in the past, there were particularly interesting nuggets that would appear and be disappeared, and some of those nuggets may prove to be interesting footnotes in histories yet to be written.

      It’s even more interesting to observe how such items are handled at RC and are either ignored or massaged/spun elsewhere in the broader bands of that end of the spectrum.

      Then again, the last thing I am interested in doing is mostly reading blogs of Right-Thinking People(TM) I largely agree with to get reinforcement of my own perspectives. (Nor to troll around on blogs of people I strongly disagree with for the ultimate same purpose.) Too dreadfully dull for words.

      The Catholic Church contains multitudes, and that’s a wonderful thing. As the wags say, I don’t believe in organized religion and that’s why I’m a Catholic…. Celebrate diversity.

    2. @Jack Feehily – comment #9:

      Jack, you’re witnessing an imploding trad site because of Pope Francis.
      They are just like an imploding star, eventually they collapse, turn into a black hole then that is when time warps!

      1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #12:

        Dale, I wouldn’t characterize all traditional Catholics through the Rorate Coeli lens. I agree with you that RC‘s behavior, and the even worse antics of even more schismatic websites, purposefully divide the body of Christ. I’m ashamed of Catholics who belittle anyone, and especially Pope Francis.

        You may not think I am a moderate (and that’s okay), but I like to think that I am moderate and a cooperative traditionalism exists. I admire Pope Francis very much. It’s true that Pope Francis and I aren’t exactly on the same page liturgically. Still, I value his homilies especially, and in general the warmth he exudes to heads of state, eminent clergy, and everyday Romans alike. I think of Pope Francis as a person who walks in the model of the Sacred Heart. Pope Francis is unwavering in his witness to the faith, but also very willing to mirror Christ’s great mercy.

        The challenge of the rad trad set is very fundamental: we can recognize our fellow humanity and fellow Christian missioners without losing a healthy individuality. Rorate Coeli demonstrates an unhealthy individuality, namely a narcissism manifested in a warped view of liturgy.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #13:
        Hello Jordan,
        I stated that it was “an imploding trad site” and I apologize to you if it came across that I was implicating all traditional minded Catholics. It was a bit of tongue in cheek. I cringe and am ashamed when non Catholics may happen across those sites like RC, NLM, etc. Unfortunately, (IMO) I blame B16 for fanning the flames of the Rad Trad group by somehow legitimizing some of their wishes. Hopefully with Pope Francis the Rad Trad sites will eventually wither away. Jordan, your responses are always thoughtful and respectful, you are never combative and I have never thought of you as a radical trad. You certainly know more about liturgy than I. I am just a person in the pew and my responses reflect my perspective from that angle, I guess at the grassroots level. And it seemed the roots were brown, dry and dying until Pope Francis came along.

      3. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #14:
        I don’t agree that the roots were brown, dry and dying. I think the grassroots have been very slowly weaning themselves from the dependence on papal fertilizer of the post-Napoleonic era. Let’s not get dependent on Francis; I don’t think he wants us to be dependent on him.

      4. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #15:

        KLS in my neck of the woods those grass roots are downright dry. One full time priest for 5 parishes, 3 church closings (8 down to 5 now) and reduction in masses because of this. And was getting worse.

        Nothing to do with weaning from “papal fertilizer”, just downright disgust with church leadership, sex abuse response and a pope who liked to dress up. Those 8 churches were full to capacity less than 10 yrs ago. However, they are now full with only 1/2 of the masses so a great reduction in attendance. We closed one of our two schools in 2009.

        Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air. For the first time in almost a decade Catholics are actually feeling good about being Catholic because pope Francis has put a new face on the church leadership and speaks a type of Catholicism that resonates with most.

        Nothing to do with dependence. He is just watering those dried roots.
        We’ll see if it continues or we have a drought.

      5. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #13:

        I must say statements like this puzzle me: “Pope Francis is unwavering in his witness to the faith, but also very willing to mirror Christ’s great mercy.”

        “… but”?

        As though that mercy is some optional exception in the faith rather than its very core.

  8. Agreement with KLS.

    If we had gotten another dispiriting bishop of Rome, I would have largely continued as before.

    That said, I don’t mind being moderately thrilled with the new man. I admit that NLM, RC, and other places seem to have an entertainment value of a different mood these days. But I don’t depend on them for my daily bread, thank you.

  9. One of the great mistakes I have seen. VaticanInsider had a picture of an exuberant Francis with his arms up and the headline beneath said:
    “I am more important than you! We are all brothers!”

    They have since corrected it, putting the missing negative in the first sentence: “I am not more important than you.” This mistake underlines the Pope’s message to the nuncios.

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