Pope advises clergy to be humble, prayerful


Pope Francis used an audience with the Catholic clergy to remind them to stick to their calling, seeking always to serve rather than be served.

In his now customary manner, he asked the thousands of priests, nuns and other men and women who have dedicated their lives to the service of humanity to pray for him.

The meeting at St Mary’s School in Lavington was for the clergymen and women a rare opportunity to see the head of the church.

They referred to him as Our Leader, the Successor of Peter, the Preacher of the Word of God and Holy Father.

The organisers had planned for 8,000 people and they did not disappoint, filling the tent the length of a football pitch and cheering wildly, with a vibrant choir at hand to give the proceedings a lively and festive air.

The Lord’s Prayer was chanted in Latin as were two hymns, the Salve Regina after the Pope’s address and the Laudate as he left.

Pope Francis kept time, arriving at exactly 3.45pm as scheduled after a drive through the shaded road, where children were proffered and he responded by kissing and then blessing them.

He arrived to shouts of Viva Papa, Ben Venuto and Karibu and Welcome.

Father Eugene Birrer would later get the rare opportunity to chat with him.

“I asked to bless him and he agreed and I placed my hand on his head and made the sign of the cross,” said Fr Birrer, who uses a wheelchair.

The Pope’s address was a mixture of homily, exhortation and the occasional joke, but it came off disjointed because he preferred to speak in his native Spanish language.

“I’d like to speak in English but my English is poor,” he said, and when a participant applauded, he noted that it must be a Spanish speaker.