VATICAN CITY - Clerics who work in the Vatican's diplomatic
corps are not called to be "senior officials of a state" or
"a self-preserving superior caste, welcome in worldly living
rooms," Pope Francis said.
Rather, they must be "authentic pastors," with the "courage
to plow" with their own hands the fields of mission to which
they are assigned, he told future Vatican diplomats during an
audience at the Vatican June 25.
The pope met with the current class and staff of the
Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which provides training to
priests for eventual service in the Vatican's diplomatic
The pope said their formation was aimed at making them men
who build "bridges" and urged them to guard against attitudes
Speaking to the future diplomats about their role as
representatives of the Holy See, he laid out clearly the
charitable mission of the church.
"The Holy See is the see of the bishop of Rome, the church
that presides in charity that does not rest on vain pride but
on the daily courage of compliance - or rather abasement - of
its master," he said.
"The true authority of the church of Rome is the charity of
Christ. This is the only power that renders it universal and
credible for people and the world," he continued. "This is
the heart of its truth, which does not build walls of
division and exclusion but is a bridge that builds communion
and calls to the unity of the human race."
Using vivid farming and fishing metaphors, the pope told them
"not to expect the ground ready" when they get to their
country of assignment but to "have the courage to plow it
with your hands, without tractors or other more effective
means," preparing it for sowing and then waiting, with the
patience of God, for the harvest," which they may not
necessarily benefit from in the future.
He also told them "not to fish in aquariums or fish farms but
to have the courage to move away from the margins of safety"
of what they know, to throw their "nets and fishing rods in
less predictable" waters, and not to "get used to eating
The pope said their future service includes "protecting the
freedom" of the Holy See. In order "not to betray its mission
before God and the true good of all people," the pope said,
it cannot be "imprisoned by the logic of networks," "be a
hostage to cliques," subject itself to "political powers," or
be "colonized by the thinking of the day or the illusory
hegemony of the mainstream."
Vatican diplomats are called to seek the good in the churches
and populations in which they serve, the pope said. To
achieve this with good results, they must "set aside the
attitude of a judge" and take on the role of a teacher, who
can draw out the good in the local church and people.
He noted the various needs of the different continents and
urged the priests not to be discouraged by the hardships they
will face in their service.