Pope Francis on Tuesday urged priests and bishops not to be afraid to “step down completely” from their assignment when they are called to a new duty.
“All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take,” he said during his homily May 30 at the chapel of the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.
The shepherd must “be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position,” he said.
In the first reading of the Mass, St. Paul addresses the Church leaders in Ephesus. The Pope said Paul left the Ephesus to go to Jerusalem, following the Holy Spirit’s call.
The Pope highlighted what he called the three “apostolic attitudes” demonstrated by St. Paul during a council with the priests of Ephesus, and he urged the faithful to pray that priests, bishops, and the Pope would live their lives accordingly.
The first attitude involves never turning back, and guiding the Church without compromise.
The second is obedience to the Spirit and the recognition that the life of a shepherd is a “journey,” always open to the voice of God.
St. Paul left Ephesus “because he had nothing of his own, he had not wrongly taken control of his sheep. He had served them … this is a shepherd without compromises who is now a shepherd on a journey.”
The third attitude involves the acknowledgement that “I am not the center of history. Whether it’s large history or small history, I am not the center, I am a servant.”
“With this most beautiful example, let us pray for our shepherds, for our parish priests, our bishops,” Pope Francis exhorted. “Let us pray for our shepherds.”