Does your priest live ‘with the smell of the sheep’?

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

“...Some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become in a sense a collector of antiquities or novelties, instead of being shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.”

-- Pope Francis

THOSE who doubted Pope Francis’s seriousness in reforming the Vatican and overhauling attitudes of bishops and priests may now reconsider.


Cebuanos remember the skepticism within the church over stories that then archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorgio Mario Bergoglio preferred riding in a bus and living in an apartment. A local bishop said it was at best an unverified story.

Later when the new pope discouraged clergy from commuting in luxurious vehicles, the monsignor wavered but didn’t commit to give up his own expensive car.

Pope Francis’s austere and simple lifestyle may not have priests and bishops rushing to discard trappings of affluence. Yet, genuineness of his thrust may no longer be questioned.

He has urged the clergy to go out: hold mass on the streets, meet with parishioners, especially the poor and the sick. “We need to experience our own anointing,” he said.


In a Holy Thursday liturgy last year, he said the congregation should sense that the priest is not just concerned about his people but as a fisher of men. Be shepherds “living with the smell of the sheep,” an idiom that swipes at clergy whose closest brush with devotees is when giving communion or speaking from the pulpit.

There’s a new pope and he has served notice it’s not the usual business in the Vatican and in bishoprics and parishes of the Catholic Church.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 20, 2014.


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