Pope Francis

By Lisa Zengarini

Jun 26 2023

Speaking to the Servants of the Paraclete in the Vatican, Pope Francis evokes the tragedy of abuse by clergy, and encourages the Congregation, which accompanies and supports priests with personal difficulties, to address the current crisis by deepening the “spirituality of reparation” and helping priests rediscover the primacy of spiritual life.

Pope Francis welcomed a group of participants in the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete on Saturday.

Founded in 1947 to assist priests with personal difficulties

The Congregation was founded in 1947 in New Mexico, U.S.A., by Father Gerald M.C. Fitzgerald, with the mission of ministering to fellow priests and religious men with personal difficulties, including abuse alcohol and sexual disorders, by offering spiritual, holistic programs for vocational renewal through spiritual direction, individual and group therapy, supervised living, ongoing education and formation, prayer and contemplation.

It now operates in several other countries in the world, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Philippines, African and South-American countries.

The General Chapter is focused on discerning new ways of mercy and proximity to priests in need to realize this charism with dynamic fidelity.

Serving Christ in His priests

Introducing his address to some 55 priests and brothers attending the audience in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis  noted that the Institutes’ motto “pro Christo Sacerdote” sums up well their particular vocation of serving Christ in His priests, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

The tragedy of abuse

“At the present time this also means sharing the particular path of purification that the Church is experiencing due to the tragedies of abuse”,  the Pope said , reiterating that “Sin disfigures, and we have a painful, humiliating experience of it when we ourselves or one of our brother priests or bishops falls into the bottomless pit of vice, of corruption, or even worse, of crimes that ruin the lives of others”.

This context, the Pope stressed, makes the mission of the Servants of the Paraclete all the more important today.

“In a situation like this, being ‘Servants of the Paraclete’ requires you to dedicate your life to accompanying some priests and consecrated brothers, offering each one a path of asceticism, conversion and spiritual and vocational renewal.”

“With the spirit and style of the Good Samaritan, you stand beside these confreres, sharing life and daily prayer with them”, the Pope continued. “Above all, you insert them in a community, a praying community, which helps to rediscover the harmony of life that a vocational crisis always compromises”.

Deepening a spirituality of reparation

He,  therefore, invited the members of the Congregation to deepen this “spirituality of reparation” starting from “the need for purification, at the service of the holiness of the Pastors of the People of God”.

In this regard he emphasized the importance of helping rediscover the primacy of spiritual life, “in the awareness that priestly maturity is fulfilled when the Holy Spirit becomes the protagonist of the life of ordained ministers”.

“Duplicity should not be tolerated but brought to light,  the light of the Spirit. He alone heals us from infidelities. (…) May the Spirit help you to look at each [priest] with the eyes of Jesus, with His love and His tenderness.”

Concluding, Pope Francis wished the Servants of the Paraclete a “good journey as witnesses of the Gospel of mercy” and invoked upon them the accompaniment and protection the Virgin Mary. – Vatican News