On February 17, Pope Francis delivered the opening address to an international theological symposium on the priesthood. The symposium was organized by the Congregation for Bishops.
“A priestly heart knows about closeness, because his primary form of closeness is with the Lord,” the Pope said. “May Christ visit his priests in their prayer, in their Bishop, in their brother priests and in their people. May he upset our routine, disrupt our lives and disquiet us – as at the time of our first love – and lead us to employ all our talents and abilities to ensure that our people may have life and life in abundance.”
Pope Francis also discussed priestly celibacy. “I would also add that when priestly fraternity, closeness among priests, thrives and bonds of true friendship exist, it likewise becomes possible to experience with greater serenity the life of celibacy,” he said. “Celibacy is a gift that the Latin Church preserves, yet it is a gift that, to be lived as a means of sanctification, calls for healthy relationships, relationships of true esteem and true goodness that are deeply rooted in Christ.”
“Without friends and without prayer, celibacy can become an unbearable burden and a counter-witness to the very beauty of the priesthood.”