The pope also spoke at length, in multiple responses, about the status of young clergy, seminarians, and pastoral formation for young people.
The pope told Vida Nueva that “rigidity” among young priests, who are good people who want to serve the Lord, comes from fearfulness at “a time of insecurity that we are experiencing.”
“That fear does not let them walk. We must remove this fear and help them,” said the pope, noting how more experienced pastors can “soften” young ideological clerics.
But the pope also said that rigidity is like a shell that “hides a lot of rot.” He said that in multiple dioceses, traditionalism has acted as a façade for “serious moral problems and vices, double lives,” which persist when bishops, in need of priests, accept those who have already been thrown out of other seminaries for “being immoral.”
“I don’t like rigidity because it is a bad symptom of the inner life,” Pope Francis said. The pope also warned about people “who live trapped in a theology manual, unable to get into trouble and make theology move forward.” He said that both movements of “the left and right” create corruption when they stagnate.
Regarding seminaries, the pope spoke of the need for a “humanistic formation.” He cautioned that seminaries cannot be “ideological kitchens,” as they “are to train pastors, not ideologues.”
The pope also said he is “afraid of intellectual youth groups,” without specifying any by name, only adding that groups “linked in some way to right-wing ideologies are perhaps the most dangerous.”
Pope Francis also said that outreach to the youth needs to focus on catching their attention and slowly bringing them closer to Jesus and the Gospel. Focusing exclusively on moral issues, such as chastity, “scares them all away.”
“If it is an ideological pastoral care of the left or the right or the center, that is useless, it is already sick from the beginning and it hurts the young.”
The pope also spoke about the threat of imperialism, which he says has particularly victimized the people of Latin America.
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“I speak badly of any empire, whatever the trend. For this reason, I know that I am a stone in the shoe” for multiple interests, the pope said.
But the pope also addressed a form of imperialism within Europe, namely, the imposition of secular values upon countries through the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels. The pope said that when he speaks to leaders from countries resisting these efforts, he tells them, “Please, stay free,” encouraging them to maintain their own unique culture, art, and lifestyle, united with the rest of Europe, “but in diversity.”
Regarding additional papal visits, the pope said that a trip to Kosovo is being worked on, though not defined, and he reiterated that he will not visit major European nations until he finishes “with the small ones.” The pope also confirmed that a return trip to his native country Argentina is “on the program.”