After Mass last Saturday, January 11, 2013, Pope Francis had some remarks about the priesthood:
“We are anointed by the Spirit, and when a priest is far from Jesus Christ he can lose this unction. In his life, no: essentially he has it… but he loses it. And instead of being anointed he ends up being smarmy. And how damaging to the Church are smarmy priests! Those who put their strength in artificial things, in vanity, in an attitude… in a cutesy language… But how often do we hear it said with sorrow: ‘This is a butterfly-priest,’ because they are always vain… [This kind of priest] does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ! He has lost the unction: he is smarmy.”
“We priests have so many limits. We are sinners, all. But if we go to Jesus Christ, if we seek the Lord in prayer – prayer of intercession, prayer of adoration – we are good priests, even though we are sinners. But if we are far from Jesus Christ, we necessarily compensate for this with other, worldly attitudes. And so [we see] all these figures… priest-wheeler dealers, priest-tycoons… But the priest who adores Jesus Christ, the priest who talks with Jesus Christ, the priest who seeks Jesus Christ and who is allowed to seek Jesus Christ: this is the centre of our life. If that is not there, we lose everything. And what will we give to the people?”
“But it is good to find priests who have given their lives as priests, truly, of whom the people say: “Yes, he’s difficult, he’s this or that… But he is a priest! And people know! On the other hand, when people see priest idolaters, so to speak, priests who instead of having Jesus have little idols… worshippers of the god Narcissus… When people see [priests like this] they say ‘poor guy!’ The relationship with Jesus Christ saves us from worldliness and idolatry that makes us smarmy, preserves us in the anointing [we have received]. And today, this is my hope for you who have been kind enough to come here to concelebrate with me: Even if you lose everything in life, don’t lose this relationship with Jesus Christ! This is your victory. Go forward with this!”
Priests come in all personality types: extroverts, introverts, joyous, sad, humorous, serious, choleric, patient, and all different types of abilities and weaknesses. As the Pope indicated it is the priest’s dedication to Christ that makes all the difference and covers over the differences from priest to priest. If a priest conveys that he has unshakable faith in Christ and His teachings, and that he would be willing to lay down his life if need be in defense of those teachings, then his strengths and his weaknesses otherwise are of interest but will not effect his ability to be a good priest. Ardent faith inspires ardent faith, and a priest who has that has the one essential requirement of his vocation.