Pope Francis urges Sicily’s Catholic priests to be moral guides — but to drop the lace

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

 

Pope Francis meets the bishops and priests of the churches of Sicily, Italy, in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on June 9, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jun 9, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis told priests and bishops from the Italian island of Sicily on Thursday to be strong moral guides, and to update their art and vestments in conformity with Church reforms.

“In Sicily, people still look to priests as spiritual and moral guides, people who can also help to improve the civil and social life of the island, to support the family, and to be a reference for growing young people. High and demanding is the Sicilian people’s expectation of priests,” the pope said during a June 9 meeting at the Vatican.

In improvised comments during his speech, Francis also addressed a topic that he said “worries” him: the progress of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, particularly relating to the liturgy.

“I don’t know, because I don’t go to Mass in Sicily and I don’t know how the Sicilian priests preach, whether they preach as was suggested in [the 2013 apostolic exhortation] Evangelii gaudium or whether they preach in such a way that people go out for a cigarette and then come back,” the pope said.

He suggested that after eight minutes of a homily, most people’s attention begins to wane.

Noting that he had seen photos from Masses in Sicily, Francis appeared also to comment on the use of lace on the vestments priests wear while celebrating Mass.

“Where are we 60 years after the Council,” he said. “Some updating even in liturgical art, in liturgical ‘fashion.’”

“Yes, sometimes bringing some of grandma’s lace is appropriate, sometimes. It’s to pay homage to grandma, right?” he continued. “It’s good to honor grandma, but it’s better to celebrate the mother, Holy Mother Church, and how Mother Church wants to be celebrated. So that insularity does not prevent the true liturgical reform that the Council sent out.”

Sicily, a southern Italian island region, has a population of 5 million people. The Catholic Church in the region is divided into 18 dioceses.

Around 300 of the island’s 2,078 priests, and 20 bishops, are in Rome for a pilgrimage and meeting with Pope Francis to mark the 30th anniversary of the Church in Sicily’s Regional Marian Priests’ Day.

Sicily, like the rest of Italy, is facing a decline in vocations to the priesthood, with 30% fewer seminarians compared with a decade ago.

In his speech in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis reflected on the changing times, including the decline in vocations.

The 85-year-old pope, who has made public appearances in a wheelchair since May 5 due to knee pain, said that priests and bishops needed to make courageous choices, with the discernment of the Holy Spirit, about how to share the Gospel of Christ today.

“We witness in Sicily behaviors and gestures marked by great virtues as well as cruel heinousness,” he said. “As well, alongside masterpieces of extraordinary artistic beauty we see scenes of mortifying neglect.”

He noted the declining social situation, including the fall in population due to a low birthrate and the exodus of young people looking for work.

“We need to understand how and in what direction Sicily is experiencing the change of age and what paths it could take, in order to proclaim, in the fractures and joints of this change, the Gospel of Christ,” he said.

“This task, while entrusted to the entire people of God, asks of us priests and bishops full, total, and exclusive service,” Pope Francis commented.

“Please, do not stand in the middle of the road,” he urged. “Faced with the awareness of our weaknesses, we know that the will of Christ places us in the heart of this challenge.”

“The key to everything is in his call,” he underlined, “on which we lean to take to the sea and cast our nets again. We do not even know ourselves, but if we return to the call, we cannot ignore that Face who has met us and drawn us behind Himself, even united us to himself, as our tradition teaches when it states that in the liturgy we even act ‘in persona Christi.’”

“This full unity, this identification, we cannot limit it to the celebration, but rather we must live it fully in every moment of life, mindful of the Apostle Paul’s words: ‘No longer do I live, but Christ lives in me,’” he said.


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23 Comments

  1. How about F1 drop the pretense that he ‘cares’…. Don’t blame it on age… He actually hates the traditional way of Catholic life

  2. Short homilies require long preparation. Long homilies require stamina for the preacher. Testing the patience and spirit of perseverance of the listener can be avoided.

    • And this comment specifically relates to the artcle’s content in what way? Did you even read it? What’s up with the pattern of stream-of-consciousness in your posts?

  3. Why stop with insults at “grandma’s” lace?

    As for Cardinal Hollerich (relator for the 2023 Synod on Synodality) who will likely invent some threadbare and see-through theological verbiage on the German “synodal way,” and his own proposed editing of natural law and the Catechism to accommodate the homosexual lifestyle–might we expect the pope to comment thusly on Hollerich’s dress code: “the king wears no clothes”?

    • I do not see how reaching out, or maintaining a caring relationship with sinners is tantamount to accommodating their sins.

      • You accommodate sin when you fail to identify it clearly and when you give tacit approval to what people are doing. It’s not really about showing people basic levels of courtesy and dignity for you. You want the church to endorse and accept homosexuality as a lifestyle option. This is a clear violation of biblical principles and church teaching. Someone who actively and intentionally encourages and supports sin, as you consistently do, is as spiritually guilty as those who are committing the psrticular sins. You don’t actually occupy any moral high ground here. Stop defending the indefensible.

  4. “Lace” is getting the headlines, but the encouragement for more effective preaching: telling the Gospel, connecting with lay people, making it helpful for real life–this is good advice that should be taken.

    As for lace, I don’t know. I’d think the Catholic man movement would approve of PF’s thought on it.

    • What do you mean by “the Catholic man movement”? Just thinking about that moves me.
      Bye. I gotta’ go. Hoping Francis will approve.

  5. When he does finally pass, I hope that his body will be vested in the most intricate, detailed and articulate lace cassock, surplice, vestments, chasuble and other pontificals befitting his role as a successor to Saint Peter.

  6. ” “It’s good to honor grandma, but it’s better to celebrate the mother, Holy Mother Church, and how Mother Church wants to be celebrated. So that insularity does not prevent the true liturgical reform that the Council sent out.””

    Just the patriachate of Rome, not the Church Universal.

  7. This Pope has throughout his reign shown nothing but utter contempt for tradition and members of his own flock and even his own priests. The sooner his corrupt Pontificate comes to an end, the better for our Church and the whole world.

  8. “Yes, sometimes bringing some of grandma’s lace is appropriate, sometimes. It’s to pay homage to grandma, right?” he continued. “It’s good to honor grandma, but it’s better to celebrate the mother, Holy Mother Church, and how Mother Church wants to be celebrated. So that insularity does not prevent the true liturgical reform that the Council sent out.”

    Morphine on steroids.

    Does this man know anything about how grandmothers are related mothers? Does he understand the generation of the People of God from God?? Does he know why lace was first used in priestly vestments?

  9. It truly is unbelievable.

    Truly.

    Unbelievable.

    With the dumpster fire that is the Church in Germany, with priestly vocations over a cliff throughout the developed world, with the ranks of believers plummeting in America and cratered in Europe, how in the name of the ever-suffering Christ Jesus does Bergoglio focus on — it’s hard to even write it — the *lace* in priests’ vestments in Sicily?

    Serious question: How?

    It’s mind-boggling.

    Every time I think I’ve seen the absolute nadir of this papacy, I see another — even somehow lower — bottom achieved.

  10. Mal, you say this above, JUNE 10, 2022 AT 10:43 PM:

    “I do not see how reaching out, or maintaining a caring relationship with sinners is tantamount to accommodating their sins.”

    It’s true. Matthew 25 is that broad. But once again, it’s a depiction of grace and what God wants is our fidelity in the grace.

    Is the lace absolutely an obstacle? Surely not. Should it be occasion for public ridicule cast over everyone just so? As much as this was a wrong O Lord I beseech a pardon to measure with it and some extra for justice’s sake.

  11. It appears that St. Francis is the patron saint of lacemakers!
    (Catholic Culture via Fr. Z’s blog, June 14.)
    Keep the laughs coming, Francis!

    • St. Francis, patron saint of lacemakers, renders just judgment of Francis’ view of lace.

      Deriding lace in a vestment derides its symbolic and practical value. The Church has traditionally considered its beauty and value as worthy to adorn altars and priestly vestments. To worship our God of infinite justice and worth using costly items of beautiful art, architecture and design was considered right and just. Lace was expensive and time-consuming to make, worthy of royalty.

      Practically it served a good and considerate purpose. In lieu of heavy and warm wool, cotton or linen vestments, vestments of lace helped cool the priest during hot summer months.

      Today our modern Church rejects traditional ideas of ascetical, penitential twinges of bodily discomfort. It more and more rejects Beauty, Truth, Goodness, and History.
      Traditionally, small sacrificial offerings to God in appreciation and imitation of His complete and total sacrificial offering on our behalf were considered right and just.

      NB: St. Therese of Lisieux’s family business was lacemaking. Her “Story of a Soul” adds counterpoint to derisions of Francis (pope, not saint).

  12. Thanks, Meiron!
    Then there’s Vermeer’s “The Lacemaker”.
    Mm. Seems there’s a whole world around this lace business.
    Maybe we should be thanking Francis (pope) for reawakening our appreciation!

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Pope Francis urges Sicily’s Catholic priests to be moral guides — but to drop the lace – Via Nova Media
  2. Le Pape François s'en prend aux prêtres et aux évêques de la Sicile

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