Pope to priests and bishops in Slovakia: Seek freedom rather than rigid religiousness

The Church does not want to control people's conscience, Pope Francis insists.

The pope meeting with bishops, priests, religious, consecrated persons, seminarians, and catechists at the Cathedral of Saint Martin in BratislavaThe pope meeting with bishops, priests, religious, consecrated persons, seminarians, and catechists at the Cathedral of Saint Martin in Bratislava (Source: TASR)

Pope Francis called on priests not to use words that do not touch people when talking to believers.

Speaking during the meeting with bishops, priests and consecrated persons in St. Martin's cathedral in Bratislava, the pope recalled a Slovak proverb when he said that "we need to break the chain of revenge".

Dive into real life

Slovak bishops and priests are trying to regain Pope Francis's perspective on love for the poor and those living in the peripheries, also with the help of their patrons, like St. Martin, the patron saint of the cathedral, said Bratislava Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky when welcoming the Pope.

"Slovakia is a poem, I told the president," Pope Francis told the congregation.

He insisted that religious figures need to dive into the real lives of people. If the Church only looks after itself, it will not go well. The Church should represent freedom and acceptance. It should be humble like Jesus who gave up everything and became poor to enrich us, the pope added.

"I want you to form people towards freedom, rather than towards rigid religiousness," he told the priests and bishops, as quoted by the Sme daily. He added that the Church does not desire to control people's consciences.

Do not speak too long

Speaking to Slovakia's priests, Pope Francis even offered practical advice. He said priests should not talk for too long, ensuring their sermons are no longer than 10 to 15 minutes and avoid using words that do not touch people. His words were followed by applause.

"I can see the nuns started clapping. They are the ones suffering from our sermons the most," the pope said with a laugh, as quoted by the Sme daily.

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