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‘You will be shepherds like him’: Pope Francis ordains nine new priests in St. Peter’s Basilica

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CNA Staff, Apr 25, 2021 / 04:25 am America/Denver (CNA).

Pope Francis ordained nine men to the priesthood on Sunday, urging them to be shepherds like Christ throughout their priestly lives.

In a largely off-the-cuff homily in St. Peter’s Basilica April 25, he told them that they would share in the mission of Christ.

He said: “You will be shepherds like him. This is what he wants of you. Pastors. Pastors of God’s holy faithful people. Pastors who go with God’s people: sometimes in front of the flock, sometimes in the middle or behind, but always there with God’s people.”

The pope urged the ordinands to seek “closeness” to God, their bishop, their fellow priests, and the People of God throughout their priestly service. He described this as the “four closenesses of the priest.”

He said it was vital for clergy to remain near God in prayer.

“A priest who does not pray slowly extinguishes the fire of the Spirit within,” he commented.

He called on the ordination candidates to see themselves as “collaborators” with their bishops, ensuring unity in the local Church.

He also asked them to be respectful of other priests.

“I suggest a resolution for you to make on this day: never speak ill of a brother priest. If you have something against another, be a man: go there, and tell him to his face,” he said.

He also encouraged them always to maintain a strong connection with parishioners.

“None of you have studied to become a priest. You have studied the ecclesiastical sciences, as the Church says you should. But you have been elected, taken from God’s people,” he told them.

He warned them that when priests lose contact with the people, they become “entrepreneurs,” rather than servants.

He said he was moved when he heard the story of a priest who was an able administrator. When the priest discovered that an elderly employee had made a mistake, he harshly scolded him, terminating his employment. The pope said that the elderly man died as a result.

“The man had been ordained as a priest and ended up as a ruthless entrepreneur,” he reflected.

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