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Next synod will discuss lack of vocations, says Pope Francis

Pope Francis (AP)

Pope Francis has said the next synod will discuss the decline in priestly vocations. In a conversation with Jesuits published by the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, the Pope said: “With regard to local vocations, I say that the vocational decline will be spoken of at the next Synod. I believe that vocations exist, you just have to know how to propose them and how to attend to them.”

The next Ordinary Synod will be held in October 2018, on the theme of “Youth, Faith and Vocation”. According to reports, the Pope wanted the synod to be about married priests, but the proposal was outvoted by his advisory council.

The Pope linked the lack of vocations to a refusal to “call upon the laity”. He said: “If the priest is always in a hurry, if he is involved in a thousand administrative things, if we do not convince ourselves that spiritual direction is not a clerical charism, but a lay charism (which the priest can also develop), and if we do not call upon the laity in vocational discernment, it is evident that we will not have vocations.”

The Pope also commented on the synod’s theme of “youth”, saying: “Young people need to be heard; and the young can be tiring. They always come with the same issues and you have to listen to them. And of course, for this you have to be patient, to be seated and to listen. And also to be creative: you have to put them to work on things. Today, always having meetings no longer makes much sense, they are not fruitful.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Francis said that the encyclical Laudato Si’ had many authors, including scientists who “were asked to say well founded things and not simple hypotheses.” The Pope said his contribution was “to set the guidelines, to make a few corrections and then to prepare the final edition, yes, with my style and elaborating some things.”

Francis also described clericalism as “one of the most serious illnesses that the Church has”. He said that clericalism “distances itself from poverty”.