By Hannah Brockhaus
In a homily Tuesday, Pope Francis condemned priests and bishops who use money to advance their careers.
To be a priest or bishop, like being a Christian, is a free and undeserved gift of God, not something to be bought, he said Jan. 21 during Mass in the chapel of the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse.
“We have paid nothing to become Christians. We priests, bishops have paid nothing to become priests and bishops,” he continued, “at least I think so.”
Francis went on to note there are those who try to move upward in their “so-called ecclesiastical career,” who “look for influences to get here, there…” as well as those “who behave in a simoniac manner.”
He said that anyone who does that “is not a Christian. Being Christian, being baptized, being ordained priests and bishops is pure gratuitousness. The gifts of the Lord cannot be bought.”
The same thing can happen in “ordinary life,” he said, such as in business, when people try to get ahead at their work by asking for favors.
He recalled that it is by the Lord’s free anointing that someone is a Christian, rejecting the argument that one’s Christian identity comes from being from a Christian family or coming from a Christian culture.
“Many people from a Christian family and Christian culture reject the Lord,” he noted. “But how come we are here, elected by the Lord? For free, without any merit, for free.”
“What is the great gift of God?” he continued. “The Holy Spirit! When the Lord elected us, he gave us the Holy Spirit. And this is pure grace, it is pure grace. Without our merit.”
We must have an attitude of humility in the face of this gift, Pope Francis urged. “This is holiness. The other things are not needed.”
He said if bishops or priests forget their flock or feel they are more important than others, they are denying God’s gift, and the same goes for Christians who forget others, both believers and non-believers.
“It is like saying to the Holy Spirit: ‘But you go, go, go quietly into the Trinity, take a rest, I will manage it by myself,’” he said.
“And this is not Christian. This is not safeguarding the gift,” he argued. “We ask the Lord today, thinking of David, to give us the grace to give thanks for the gift he has given us, to be aware of this gift, so great, so beautiful, and to safeguard it – this gratuitousness, this gift – to safeguard it with our fidelity.”