12 May 2014
The Pope met today with priests and seminarians studying at Rome's Pontifical Universities in the Pope Paul VI Hall in Vatican City. The event began with students from the various colleges, representing most of the world, providing selections of music. The songs ranged from Mexican hymns, to American spirituals, to Zulu ululations, to traditional English polyphony. The Pope arrived a bit late--he was meeting with Bishops from Mexico and apparently they got to talking a bit.
The even largely consisted with a group of pre-selected seminarians each asking a question. The questions related especially to priestly formation and ministry. There was nothing particularly earth-shattering in the talk that I heard. Pope Francis is always very pastoral. Where John Paul tended to speak in the language of philosophy and Pope Benedict in the language of theology, Pope Francis speaks in the language of everyday stories. Most of his responses were anecdotes from his own life and experience. For example, one seminarian asked about the challenges of living in community life. Pope Francis recalled an event when he was a young seminarian or priest and having trouble with one of his fellow seminarians/priests. He went to his Spiritual Director to express his frustration with this person, listing all the reasons why he had a right to be angry. Pope Francis said that his Spiritual Director asked only one question: "Have you prayed for this brother?" The Pope said he admitted at the time that he had not. The Spiritual Director said something to the effect of, "Well, there's no more we can do right now." That's Pope Francis, just a simple story to illustrate a very pastoral point.
After the talk he walked down the center of the Hall and met with seminarians. I was able to get a few pictures there. I left with a fellow Dominican and we were waiting just outside the exit doors. The crowd wasn't moving, and we just assumed that security was holding everyone up to allow the Pope to get past first. Little did we know that the Pope's next destination was just past we were standing. So, the security quickly formed a corridor through the remaining few of us who were left, and escorted him right past us. I never expected to get that close. It was a nice bit of Providence!
Below are the pictures I took.