Letter of Francis to priests

Today, Sunday 4 August, in the Novus Ordo calendar Feast of St. John Vianney, Patron of Priests, a Letter of Francis to priests was released. Perhaps it was released in anticipation of the Feast of St. John Vianney celebrated on 8 August in the traditional Roman calendar?

The Letter addresses some aspects of The Present Crisis™.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Francis, Mail from priests, Priests and Priesthood, The Coming Storm and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. mepoindexter says:

    I’m not a priest, but seeing Father Lucio Gera being invoked early on would make me feel like the rest of the allocades for priests are disingenuous at best.

    It’s like telling you all these good things while he steals your wallet.

  2. JSzczuka says:

    I don’t know anything about Fr. Lucio Gera. It does seem like a beautiful letter. I know several good priests that could use this encouragement. It’s awful but I have such a hard time trusting even this. I don’t imagine that Francis wrote the letter himself, but it has his approval. I guess my thought is, “what’s he softening us up for? when does the next shoe drop?” I’d be interested to know good Fr Z’s thoughts.

  3. JonathanTX says:

    When Pope Francis uses Ezekiel 16 to refer the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as an unfaithful Bride (he said this in March 2019 also), isn’t that contradicted by CCC 823 et al? “The Church . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy.” The Church contains sinners. The Church is NOT sinful.

    And again, Pope Francis uses the story of Jonah fleeing to Tarshish as a subtle dig at traddies, when he quotes his own Gaudete et exsultate:

    134. Like the prophet Jonah, we are constantly tempted to flee to a safe haven. It can have many names: individualism, spiritualism, living in a little world, addiction, intransigence, the rejection of new ideas and approaches, dogmatism, nostalgia, pessimism, hiding behind rules and regulations. We can resist leaving behind a familiar and easy way of doing things. Yet the challenges involved can be like the storm, the whale, the worm that dried the gourd plant, or the wind and sun that burned Jonah’s head. For us, as for him, they can serve to bring us back to the God of tenderness, who invites us to set out ever anew on our journey.

  4. Unwilling says:

    What types or groups are not singled out for warning? What tendencies or excesses are conspicuous by their absence? This is not a matter of equality, fairness, or balance – which are often ways to injustice. It is a matter of pointing with the thumb. Paradox of ostension.

  5. Lurker 59 says:

    “He is breathing forth his Spirit in order to restore the beauty of his Bride, caught in adultery. ” — Pope Francis

    There is a huge problem here in that it was not the Bride/ The Church caught in adultery, it was the priests and bishops caught in adultery and, by a large %, in much much worse. Is it not clericalism to equate the clergy and or the actions of the clergy with the Bride? Additionally, there is a gross misunderstanding of ecclesiology sees the sinful actions of individuals who have power in the Church on Earth as being synonymous with the actions of the Church. No. The Church can only act in accordance with the will of her Head, who is Christ. It is up to use sinners to aline our actions with the will and action of Christ. This is how the Bride remains spotless even as filled with sinners of the highest rank. Misunderstanding this has large implications within moral theology.

    Notice also the subtle shifting of blame — it is not “I am what is wrong with the Church” to take from Chesterton, but rather it is the Church that is like the one caught in adultery.

  6. John Nelson says:

    The words are nice. His actions scream louder. To wit, allowing McCarrick out again. Appointing Maradiaga to his “cabinet.” Letting Cocopalmerio get away with his sex orgies. Appointing Wilton “queen of the nile” Gregory Archbishop of Washington DC. Praising (Donna) Donald Cardinal “Wuerl the girl” for his service to the church in America. This is, as our genial host likes to say, “B as in B, S as in S.” Pfaw. He leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Well. Isn’t that nice.

    There are some traditional texts where the Church is compared to unsavory things, but only as a sort of holy joke! Like the bit where the Church is like a “professional”, because she will go after anybody to get them saved.

    This is not a joke. It is a category error. The best you can say is that the man was asleep in class when they covered the bit about the Church herself being immaculate, even if her members sometimes are not.

  8. bartlep says:

    “I mentioned that priests need to find in their bishop an older brother and a father who reassures them in these difficult times, encouraging and supporting them along the way.”
    A brotherly affection with McElroy, Cupich, Gregory, Wuerl?? Please… Who is PF kidding?

  9. TonyO says:

    To contemplate Mary is “to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness.

    ICK! “Revolutionary”? Mary? Not from the Catholic Church I know.

    There is, indeed, a nice way of taking this: Mary’s humility and obedience are so complete and so effective that they turn into powerful tools to combat sin in others. Sure.

    I am not objecting to this sentiment. It is to the language. This is marxist language. It is in Leninism-marxism that we find every good quality referred to as “revolutionary”. In marxism, revolution per se is lauded, change not because it is a necessary evil, but change just BECAUSE, change just to get rid of custom. But true virtue is by nature a habit, and the marxist by rebelling against ALL custom is trying to overturn the virtues themselves . In Catholicism, we recognize a man coming into line with virtue is a man returning to the way of living that God intended in man from the very beginning. The highest and all-encompassing virtue, charity, is the very core of the supernatural virtues, and is the very meaning of the passage in which we are told God made man “in His image and likeness”: Adam and Eve were created in full flower of the theological virtues. By living the virtues we are not “revolutionary”, quite the opposite, we quell the rebellion against God in our hearts and become obedient, we return to being good citizens of the Divine order. The only thing that it is in revolt against is against Satan’s own revolt.

    Catholics don’t talk of Mary and “revolution”. Egad!

  10. fr.ignatius says:

    I read the letter, it is a compilation of the Pope’s own soundbites. It was clearly put together by some functionary.

    Nothing from the Fathers, nothing from the priestly saints and most of all nothing even from the life of the Holy Curé…

    No mention of Pope Benedict’s Annus Sacerdotalis which in my recollection was an incredible success, at least on the local level I was at.

    No mention really of the Holy Things that the priest should draw his continual strength from, nothing of beauty about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, nothing about daily rosary or weekly confession.

    waste of time. Instead Re-read Benedict’s letter inaugerating the annus sacerdotalis, I read it straight after Francis. Whatever you might think of Benedict, this letter comes from the heart and this letter is inspiring on a priestly level. Francis’ letter reflects a completely different ‘spirituality’.


    If you are a seminarian, re-read his letter to seminarians, another fine letter full of a father’s love.


  11. JonPatrick says:

    I like that phrase “in a society and culture that glorifies the ephemeral, there are still people unafraid to make lifelong promises. ” It is true that in this society people don’t stay with the same career or even the same spouse for a lifetime and promises are made with no intention of keeping them. I admire those priests who keep those lifelong vows they made in spite of the gravitational pull of the world around them.

  12. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Is it a testament to the damage His Holiness has already wrought that a letter ostensibly intended to encourage priests receives the welcome it has already received in this column? Ordinarily, turning priests to their bishops SHOULD be a good thing, but in this context it comes off badly. Ordinarily the revolution in our love — making it pure, making it holy, making it love of God instead of ourselves — would be good things, but the idea of the “revolution” of Mary rightly puts us on our guard. I remember saying/writing a little while ago that a great many things His Holiness writes could be rightly understood as Catholic, but he has such a track record that even Catholic-sounding ideas should be shunned.

  13. s i says:

    @Lurker 59 : “He is breathing forth his Spirit in order to restore the beauty of his Bride, caught in adultery. ” — Pope Francis

    I have to say, this sentence immediately caught me as well – it is so wrong in so many ways and on so many levels. The Church, as Bride of Christ, is spotless; always was and always will be. ‘CCC796: The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.’ After reading that one sentence, it was everything I could do to force myself to read the rest of this lame letter. I am so tired of this Pope and his cronies. I feel so bad for all the good priests and bishops.

  14. I read the letter with an open heart. I am grateful for the kind words and encouragement.

    That said, the following jumped out at me early on:

    “Some time ago, I shared with the Italian bishops my worry that, in more than a few places, our priests feel themselves attacked and blamed for crimes they did not commit. I mentioned that priests need to find in their bishop an older brother and a father who reassures them in these difficult times, encouraging and supporting them along the way” (emphasis added).

    Dear Holy Father, don’t you realize that this is impossible now? Bishops as a “father”? Given the new climate and the new norms, bishops are definitely not fathers or “older brothers,” especially not in “difficult times.” Now, bishops are our employers. If a priest is in trouble, his bishop is the last person he can go to.

  15. The Cobbler says:

    Back when the Legion of Christ scandal broke, I recall reading some discussion of how the Legionaries (or perhaps it was their groupies) identified the Legion with the Church herself and spoke of the Church being sinful, instead of acknowledging the sin of the Legion’s founder and leaders in particular; in that discussion as in this one, the more astute pointed out that the Church is spotless and sinless but full of sinful people.

    Considering the Legion’s founder was Mexican – and that the Legion was his cultist network as a bisexual predator – I wonder: is it a Latin American thing, or a sex predator thing, or an evil networker thing?

    And does Francis think of McCarrick what the Legion thought of Maciel: that “God writes straight with crooked lines”?

Comments are closed.