Why I disagree with Pope Francis

Why I disagree with Pope Francis

Pope Francis is known to make off-the-cuff remarks. Many of these have left the Vatican press office scampering for cover. Recently he apologised for using an anti-gay slur during a meeting with Italian bishops. That comment in itself was illogical when weighed in with the many ‘pastoral’ overtures to the ‘least the last and the lost.’ But what has got my goat this time is his comments on the duration of homilies and more technically the breaking of ‘The Word.’

A few days ago, on June 12th the Holy Father at a general audience said, “Priests should keep their homilies short and speak for a maximum of eight minutes to prevent members of the congregation from nodding off.” If I am right, this is the fourth time he has made such a comment in public.

To my mind, such comments, introspective as they are, are demeaning and demoralising when made in public forums which do not have the faculty to bring about changes on this matter. This statement would be well received if Pope Francis was speaking to a group of clergymen. These comments are nothing short of playing to the gallery; one that leaves a poor taste in the mouth!

The consequences of such comments are scattered all over the media and the internet. Borderline and lapsed Catholics love to add their spice to the unfolding drama. I received a forward on the matter from a lapsed catholic who is also a dear friend. His message was meant to hit hard for he said to me, “You are warned!”

It is no hidden secret that the quality of homilies across the board is poor. But what should be fixed is not the length of the homily but the quality of the content. You don’t walk into a cinema and expect to be told a story in eight minutes, much less break the word of God. To think that the pulpit should compete with ‘Ted Talks’ is playing into the hands of those who want ‘God-talk’ silenced.

Clearly, the Holy Father is troubled by the feedback he gets on lengthy homilies. But there are thousands of excellent preachers of the Word who have held us riveted for hours. We don’t want less of them but rather more. It is not the length of the homily, Holy Father, but the content that you should be talking about. I can listen to Bishop Barron, Fr Michael Payyapilly and the late Archbishop, Fulton Sheen for hours on an end, not speaking of the many preachers of other denominations who hold their congregation captive; hanging on to every word that comes from the preacher’s lips.

The Holy Father sits in a position of authority that can bring about real change rather than cheap chatter.  If he so desires, he could summon the powers that be, to evaluate both seminary formation and how homiletics is taught.

In the Archdiocese of Bombay, we spend years studying philosophy and theology and yet the speech and homiletics class is held just once a week with a seminarian getting to practice his prepared homily perhaps once in three weeks. If the face of the priesthood is the Sunday homily, then should this class not be graded like any subject of theology or philosophy? The fact is that no one has ever ‘failed’ seminary formation (as they would do for other subjects and issues) for a poor homily because homiletics is not taken seriously in our seminaries.

If the Sunday homily is (ironically) the face of the priesthood, then we need reform. We must invite the best from the secular and the religious world to train and form our seminaries. The Redemptorists were known for homiletic content and style because they spent hours training their seminarians on what was their forte. Sadly, few of that generation live on.

Even more, if we admit, as we should, that the overall quality of homilies in the Church is dismal then why do we continue to teach a failed methodology in our seminaries? I can say with certainty that the methodology for teaching homiletics has not changed in more than 25 years and if that be so then why do we insist on using a failed methodology? Which organization in the world, knowing that a product has failed, does not work backwards to fix it?

While I don’t agree with the manner and mind of the Holy Father on this issue, I do believe that it is time that the Bishops of India and seminaries across the board put their minds together to churn out better preachers. If not, we will continue to talk through our hat Sunday after Sunday.

Fr Warner Dsouza

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42 thoughts on “Why I disagree with Pope Francis”

  • So very true Rev Warner, the methodology of homiletics need to undergo a change. There are some very good preacher’s that I’ve had the privilege to hear; yet also been bored out with some non essential matters being spoken about at Mass using the pulpit. I must say our first batch of the diaconate had a very good formation in homiletics, with inputs and guidance from the Jesuits and redemptist. One of the best who sadly is no more. (Yes indeed, pope Francis at times loves to start controversy over matters that should have been spoken to only with and for the clergy). At the end of it all, I suppose God knows best why things are happening the way it is. We need to Pray 🙏🏻. Stay safe n blessed Rev. 🙏🏻 Dcn Leonard La’Rive.

    • In 2004, I had proposed to the Archdiocese of Mumbai, that on the first Sunday of every month, a recorded homily by an eloquent priest be played at every Mass across the Archdiocese, so that everyone hears the same message; the Archbishop of Mumbai to record his homily four / two times a year… hope it fructifies after 20 years.

    • Fr. Warner, you always tell us to read the text within its context. Could it be that someone or some group is misinterpreting his message?

      I completely agree that the quality of the homily has to improve! We long to listen to the word of God being shared !

  • You are spot on Padre. It doesn’t matter how long the Homily is as long as it has quality and meaning to it. We desperately need the word broken to us laypeople with proper catechesis as in the current times most Catholics take the Word of God for granted and don’t live Scripture. I use to do this till I had an illumination of conscience. I love to listen to good preaching including yours.
    Blessings to all you good Preachers out there.

  • ‘Nailed it’ I would say. When the Preacher is good, you actually want him to continue speaking cause there is so much you are absorbing and learning. Then 8 minutes seems too short.

    • Bottom-line, he’s the pope and after the feedback he gets from arround the world, it’s upto him to do something.
      Some of the priests I know come unprepared, read a line from the gospel and then belt out utter gibberish, repeating themselves time and again. They are totally oblivious of intellectual people in the congregation awaiting eagerly for their precious pearls of wisdom.
      Don’t get me wrong, if a homily is interesting, even if the speaker has a language or accsent problem, I can sit for hours listening to him or her.
      I remember a good priest speaker once saying that he was told at the sem, “Be brief, be blunt and be gone”
      You just have to get out a good message to your congregation, so good that he carries it to his grave!!

  • Fully agree with you Fr Warner .we do enjoy some preachers better that others only because of the way deliver the teaching regardless of how much time they speak.

  • Perfect. In full agreement with you Fr. Warner

  • Fr. by putting up your detailed response on social media, lay people are confused…cause it appears like infighting…and their faith is dimmed. The better way of dealing with this issue would be to write to the Vatican and demand a response.

    • The problem with the Catholic Church is we have always kept things under wraps and this is where we have gone wrong. I can assure you that the Holy Father is out of touch with several on the ground issues. The reality is being felt all across the world. If the Vatican responded to anything, the clergy and laity would have been inclined to write in but they do not. If this article which is respectful to the Holy Father disturbs the laity then I must say that we have a very shaky laity and that again is the fault of the Church for not empowering the laity. Finally, thank you for writing in and expressing your views.

  • Based on my experience in public speaking and training corporates on the same issues mentioned above, here are my ‘2 cents’ on this 🙂 There are 2 sides to this coin: one, where rightly stated, that quality is more important than quantity, and two, dwindling attention spans of today’s audience and repeat content consumption on apps.

    Quality – Not everyone has the inherent talent to be powerful orators. Crafting, articulating and then conveying the right message to the audience, presenting information in a unique way to captivate them, using anecdotes related to one’s life’s journey to engage the audience are skills that can / must be taught, and then honed. Moreover, a priest has to be well-read and tuned to the realities of life today – things happening in the world in order to tap the pulse of the congregation, and hence, must address a diverse range of subjects. Not everyone understands this, as our education system in India places preference on quantity over quality (this can be seen in the way we are evaluated in our exams – every question is essay-type and marks are allotted based on the number of words that have to be written). This process of thinking and writing has an impact on the way we communicate. So, today, even if something is self-explanatory and straight-forward, we tend to elongate and elaborate information; it has now become second nature to us and is engrained in us. We tend to give lengthy explanation and justification unnecessarily at times. Less is more. Keep it short and simple. Do not try and impress the other person with just how much you know on the topic – make the information relevant, keep it concise. This provides the best opportunity for your message to be understood and responded to appropriately. By being brief and getting to the point, people will be more tuned to listen to you further when they know that you get to the point and not beat around the bush. Also, addressing the audience is an art – you need to have an attention-grabbing and a powerful opening (a startling / dramatic statement, or a quote, or anecdote), and a powerful close too. Again, not everyone understands this, and this ‘makes members of the congregation nod -off’ (sic).

    Dwindling attention spans – Today, we live in a world of instant gratification. Everything happens ‘instantly’ – you drink instant coffee; eat 2-minute noodles; book cabs, movies and groceries instantly through an app etc. Everyone is pressed for time. Similarly, in
    communication as well, no one wants to read and listen to lengthy pieces of information, unless the person asks you for it. Who really reads a long joke or forward on WhatsApp? Who really clicks on ‘Read more’ on a WhatsApp message when you know it’s long, unless the topic is really relevant to you? This is the reason short-format content (Instagram reels / TikTok Videos / YouTube Shorts) has succeeded and seen phenomenal growth in the last couple of years – as it presents and communicates information in a crisp way – within 20-45 seconds. Moreover, the audience on these apps have the control and power to immediately swipe / scroll up if they’re bored or disinterested. Or, they can increase the playback speed from 1x to 1.5x, 2x or even 5x at times. In the church, this swiping / scrolling / increasing playback speed translates into people taking control by moving away and leaving the church / not coming for mass.

    Content Over-consumption – The world now consumes content on Instagram Reels and YouTube Videos in such quantities and with such ravenous hunger that it has become everyone’s prime source of inspiration. This sometimes constitutes content on philosophical teachings, spirituality and religion, sometimes wrapped up in pop-psychology (eg. The Secret) and sometimes not; by various preachers, pastors, counsellors, self-help coaches, life coaches, gurus etc (whatever you want to call them). The ‘core’ message in almost all of them are the same. Everyone’s talking about the same thing, driving the same message, more or less, wrt certain truths, wisdom and values in life – how should a human being lead his life, how does one seek to order chaos and gain insight into life. So, these messages become repetitive for people. Where the priest comes in, is by providing a ‘theological’, ‘Jesus’, ‘Catholic’ and ‘God’ context to these messages wrapped up in the realities of today and daily life – how do we grasp the patterns of living within a very personal, emotional and CATHOLIC experience. And keeping all this in mind, one does not need a lengthy sermon.

    • Agree a Hundred Percent. Many Sermons have watered down the Word of God.
      We Need to be Saturated with The Word and that will surely take more than 8 minutes!

  • Respectfully I agree on the this disagreement.At times i have chosen a specific mass time depending on the preachers /Priests who consistently preach the word of GOD so well drawing us only closer to HIM and deepens our understanding on the scriptures.Their constant preparation and quality has been key.

    If the homilies get down to 8 minutes think about it..saying a 2 minute prayer. “Rush hour prayer”

    Thank you Fr. Warner

  • Spot on Father. Content rather than length. For so many, Sunday is the only day to hear God’s Word and the message… and 8 minutes of that… How are we to strengthen our faith… or even decifer the message…

  • I fully agree with you Fr. Warner that what the Holy Father needs to look into is not just the length of the homily but the content. Many Catholics only get the Word at the Sunday Eucharist and it’s sad to say that sometimes there’s nothing preached on the Word of God, but just sone irrelevant things and one story after another. And when some Catholics who get tired of this get drawn to other denominations where the Word of God is preached, we complain from the pulpit about “sheep stealing”. Why won’t a hungry person go to a place where he’s being fed???

  • Agree with you Fr that the content of the homily is so important to keep the faithful coming back for more. Not only in Mumbai but even abroad I see the congregation is completely disengaged during the homily and I thought it was only me. In the age of information, people are looking for meaning and reason to believe and to stay faithful to our Holy Catholic church. In every mass there are people of all age groups, there is need to unpack the lectionary readings in way that appeals to all. If not you are only going to make way for people to seek other so called “spiritual” methods. You are right again Fr. about a failed methodology that has led us into becoming just cultural Catholics.
    Not faithful where it counts.

  • Like you say Father it’s the content that matters. Believe it or not in our parish we have youth (my son’s included and sometimes me and hubby too) who rather go to another parish for Sunday mass cause the quality and time of sermon is all that matters.
    Another thing that’s become a thing now is club things in the celebration of the mass before the final blessing, farewell speeches, thank you’s, power point presentations and the works….. Can literally see people walk out in frustration even before the final blessing which to be fair is my state of mind too but I stay cause I want to receive that final blessing.

  • Good day Father,

    What is needed is pastoral focus on adult catechesis which goes beyond sunday’s obligation.
    We are giving focus on Sunday school for children, but faith environment at home is what builds up children and also community interaction rather than just depend on Sunday school and Sunday mass which includes homily.

    Thoughts may be idealistic, but this what came to my mind now.


  • Totally agree with you, Fr Warner… and may I add, there are other statements and actions by the HF that I have reservations about,
    Thank you for your courage in making this very balanced post… decrying the recent papal exhortation and, at the same time, pointing out a matter that needs to be addressed in seminaries. God Bless 🙏🏼

  • I totally agree with you Fr., Eight minutes to break the Word. It’s truly sad. And the reason given is all the more sad. So instead of improving on the material delivered one is going in the opp direction. As said we can hear Fr. Michael, Fr. Antony for hours and hours, the reason i understand is these are spirit led homilies. It leaves us to thinking are we missing being Led by the Holy Spirit ??? Tks fr. GBU

  • I agree with your analysis Fr Warner… I too love listening to Archbishop Fulton Sheen (may God rest his soul), Bishop Robert Barron and Fr Mike Schmitz. They are very tuned in to the pulse of the people and their Sunday homilies are worth listening to. Thank you for sharing your views – though I must admit i thought the title is somewhat click.bait 😅 I hope that the powers that be give more attention to training priests in giving more meaningful and engaging homilies. I believe that out of 1000 words spoken, if 20 words remain with the listener and encourage a deeper relationship with Our Lord, then your homily has won the day 😇👍🏼

  • Agree with you Fr.

    If Pope had said that 8′ homily is for weekday mass then it’s fine but not for Sunday sermon.

    Our congregation is also not willing to spend more than an hour for Sunday mass where the sermon is for max. 20′. It has become an obligation for many of us catholic.

    Are we heading to Last days as scripture says in
    2 Tim 3:
    1 Remember this! In the last days there will be many troubles,

    2 because people will love themselves, love money, brag, and be proud. They will say evil things against others and will not obey their parents or be thankful or be the kind of people God wants.

    3 They will not love others, will refuse to forgive, will gossip, and will not control themselves. They will be cruel, will hate what is good,

    4 will turn against their friends, and will do foolish things without thinking. They will be conceited, will love pleasure instead of God,

    5 and will act as if they serve God but will not have his power. Stay away from those people.

    Believers of other denomination sit for 3 hrs.at a stretch in their churches in praise and worship followed by sermon(scripture oriented) atleast for an hour.
    Our Sunday sermon should atleast be half an hour to start with and should be centred around the World of God.
    We continue to pray for our Pope and Clergy so that Almighty God grant wisdom and strength to lead His flock to salvation.

  • Spot on Warner!
    Love your thought!
    It is no hidden secret that the quality of homilies across the board is poor. But what should be fixed is not the length of the homily but the quality of the content. You don’t walk into a cinema and expect to be told a story in eight minutes, much less break the word of God. To think that the pulpit should compete with ‘Ted Talks’ is playing into the hands of those who want ‘God-talk’ silenced.

    This should be circulated widely! Of course you will be persecuted for your frank views which illustrate what we the poor laity have to put up with regularly. Often they are just rants. At times the preacher is trying to be witty with the use of some lame jokes’

    The arrow never meets the target! It’s us the poor laity that suffers. We are hungry for the Word of God but we go home hungry.

    And then on days like Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter we get some brilliant priests who set the congregations on fire. But then there’s a lull for the months that follow.

    The Word of God is so powerful… it has to take root… it has to be shared responsibly!

  • Thank you Fr. for your thoughts ..it was nice to read your strong and genuine comments, I completely agree with them …what matters is not the length of the homily but the content and delivery… You rightly pointed out that Seminarians need to be given more practice and exposure , because the priest at the pulpit is the Bible we the laity are inspired by.

  • You have nailed it in ur article.I Totally agree with u. It’s the quality of the content that matters and not the length of it.

    • Very true Father…..sadly some people of the congregation feel the same…..and such comments by the highest authority only supports the lukewarm catholics…who know little about the WOG but take pride in passing remarks if the homily is a little longer…they make complaints….but the same people don’t mind spending hours on the social media…….
      Sorry to say that even the priests nowadays support this….they hurry with the mass leaving no space and time to spend some alone time with Jesus even after receiving the Holy communion….so sad….sometimes recessional hymns are announced during this sacred time and the choir is not even corrected…we were taught by our liturgy trainers the 5 points of silence during mass…..it is heartbreaking that all these valuable lessons are just ignored by people including priests….today the priests are asking catechists to cut down the catechism class to 45 minutes….even in the FHC class and we are laying the foundation of faith in our children at this juncture ……your homilies Father fas helped ne a lot in my vocation as a wife, mother and catechist…we pray may we have many more priests of your kind….God bless

  • Amelia Theresa Dias · Edit

    Something is wrong somewhere. I observed at my former parish Our Lady of Victories,parishners would tell sermon exceeded 20 minutes mark on Sunday and weekdays they were of opinion Holy Mass should conclude in 20 minutes and on Sunday maximum 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Jatpat celebration of Holy Eucharistic celebration they same I witnessed in Betalbatim, our parish priest keep saying don’t look at your watch and have placed wall clock. What I failed to understand is one can watch drama, movies, for hours but can’t make time to be with Lord, where are we heading, at this stage our future generations will be lost, not knowing how to practice our Christian faith, I relish breaking of The Word of God as long it is in line with scripture, there were times I fidgeted during homilies, thanks to Fr Jerry D’souza SJ, he formed in me a virtue of listening. Readers are good listeners, must cultivate Will to hear and relate to one’s life. Attentiveness is an other virtue,and is vital,” change is most certain thing in life” at the same at what cost. This morning at 9:15am Holy Mass our celebrant asked seed represent what, I replied the Word of God, where it grows, on good soil, who watches it growth God. Very few answered, he referred to Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph and Jesse from where Jesus lineage is. Congregation has got into habit of instant. Where there is Will, there is Way. After reading this article understood the severity of the statement. I’m blessed to have you and many more whom I listen to especially when I go through mental turmoil and get sight through various preachers, Mind of Jesus. Sermon on the Mount for example, what would be reaction of this generation???? So casual approach, conduct during Holy Mass during Consecration,be still, they go about with collection basket. Something is at miss…… One to one comment, you are free to correct me Father. I avoid social media platforms, to say out of context, with conviction one should react. Too lengthy

  • Joelle Marie Fernandes · Edit

    Well said Fr. Warner.
    Yes we do respect the Pope but there is a lot of stuff said and it backfires on us the faithful followers.
    Am so happy that you have spoken out.

  • A homily can hit hard even if it’s short. If a priest is clear about what he wants to convey, he can effectively convey it through a brief homily. Also, A homily is part of a Eucharistic celebration and not the whole of it and so cannot be the focus of the Mass; if it is too long it can be tiresome – this especially because the audience is of varied intelligence levels. For deeper understanding of texts bible studies should be encouraged. I wouldn’t take offence to the Pope’s statement. He is only saying what all are thinking.

    • Perfectly said! Exactly what I’ve said above 🙂 A homily is one PART of the mass, and not the entire mass itself. A mass has various parts and components to it. Also, since Sunday mass is obligatory, the congregation knows that it must celebrate mass, come-what-may. Whereas, Praise & Worship, adoration, and other forms of worship, do not have many components, and hence, a longer sermon / preaching of Biblical scripture is absolutely ok; also because the audience who attends these services do it not out of obligation, but out of interest. So, they want more preaching.

      To pander to today’s generation (Millennials, Gen Z) and the generations to come (Gen-Alpha), the church must move with the times; and the way forward is bite-sized information. And this is the way forward for all forms of communication going forward. This is even evident in the daily Word of the Day segment on the Vatican website – you have the 1st reading, Gospel and a short sermon; it isn’t lengthy at all.

      People want to consume information, and also want to control the way they consume information. The church must strive to keep its flock together, rather than giving it a chance to aggressively abandon the faith, or become lukewarm-Christians. Long sermons tend to manifest in different ways – people will either aggressively stop coming for mass and say things like, “I can pray anywhere because God is everywhere”; or adopt passive-aggressive ways of avoiding mass like going to different parishes, changing mass timings based on the celebrant, leaving the mass immediately after Communion or simply tuning out and not paying attention.

      What matters is the content and delivery – it’s about WHAT you say, and also HOW you say it ie your vocal impact (pitch, tone, energy in your voice, voice modulation etc). Training on all this is necessary in the seminary. Be brief – say WHAT the cruz of the teaching is, WHY its important from a Catholic theological perspective, bring relevance to the teaching in daily life and HOW to implement the teaching. This can definitely be done within 8 minutes or even less tbh.

      For members of the congregation who want more perspective and insight on scripture, one can join a Bible Study or go for a residential retreat etc. as that is not obligatory.

  • Wei said Fr. Warner. I fully agree with you

  • Beautiful, spot on and most importantly a very respectful article, Fr Warner. I won’t repeat the same feedback which many have correctly pointed out, but what I would like to suggest to try is gathering feedback from the laity about a priest. We live in a very feedback oriented world, and since the priest is providing service to the Church and its parishioners, shouldn’t we provide feedback, so that this can help both the priest and the laity?

  • I used to be someone who would criticize the homily often, and I would just do it with friends and family, instead of giving feedback, perhaps in an encouraging way to the priest.

    I think the lockdown did spoil us quite a bit. We got to choose which online Mass to watch based on our preferences – the homily, the choir, the time the Mass took, etc. Now we don’t have a choice. But we have to realize that the Church is a family (not just like a family). We don’t get to choose our family members. We must work to love each other in spite of each other’s, beginning with our own, shortcomings. So, we go back to our parish each Sunday because that’s our local Church family.

    Every time the topic of a powerful homily or talks about deep theological truths comes up, I remember this quote from Pope Pius XI in Quas Primas where he instituted the Solemnity of Christ the King.

    “For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year – in fact, forever. The church’s teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man’s nature. Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God’s teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life.”

    So, while the Liturgy of the Word is important, and has a catechetical function, it is the whole liturgy that teaches us. In front of God, we are children who learn by watching our father (the priest) work and go about the process of worshiping God – something we must learn to do since we’ll be doing it for eternity in heaven. This is why the liturgy is also repetitive on many levels – children need repetition.

    Therefore, in order to learn, the whole liturgy must be celebrated well. This does mean that the liturgy of the word must be done well too, including the homily. However, priests are humans like everyone else. I’ve seen the same priest give a splendid homily with many aha moments as well as a lackluster homily. There could be several factors behind this. The priest may have been unwell the entire week or may have had some emergency, or maybe just had a bad day. It is said that priests have two guardian angels because there face far more attacks than the rest of us.

    The point is this, instead of us complaining about the quality of a homily, the laity should learn to participate in the entire liturgy – the entire liturgy teaches – the collect, the various antiphons, etc. Also, these are sections that are codified by the Church – the words are pre-defined so surely these words were picked for a reason. We ought to pay attention to the entire liturgy and then we’ll slowly learn more. My mind was blown, for example, when I paid attention to the words the priest uses while blessing the baptismal water during the Easter Vigil Mass. The entire prayer is a lesson on the typology of Baptism. The first time I heard of the Old and New Testament connection for baptism was from a Protestant, but I’ve been hearing it every Easter without realizing it because I never paid attention.

    In an ideal world it would be great if every parish had splendid homilies. But there are so many hurdles that are not easy to solve. I had to give talks on various topics of the faith on three occasions. It was hard, and I needed the help of power point slides to get my point across. This was with an audience that was actually interested. How much harder would it be for a priest to do it every week (rather every day since there’s also Daily Mass), consistently.

    Also, just a small point about that 8 (should be 7) minutes part. I did work with some folks doing research on education. Back then the research showed that the average attention span of a person is seven minutes. It’s probably much lower now thanks to Tik Tok (and what came after it – reels, shorts, etc.). Just putting it out there on where the number comes from.

    In any case, the laity can’t change how priests are trained. What we can change is our approach when we go to Mass. Today’s Gospel has something for us all here. The farmer plants the seed but it is God who does the inner work. St. Paul in his letters keeps talking about how poor he is at speaking (just like Moses), but see how many conversions he was involved in? Paul says that in his weakness God showed his strength. Not saying the Church shouldn’t work hard to improve. We should. But we shouldn’t be discouraged either at the same time. Also, the second parable about the mustard seed – In the Old Testament, Ezekiel uses a tall, strong cedar for his analogy of the kingdom. But Jesus uses a simple, humble mustard seed that becomes a shrub (not a tall tree). The kingdom (and therefore the Church), doesn’t always look like what we expect.

    • I have been taught by my faith teachers…
      If u have an issue with a brother… Go to him and sort it out…. Between you and your brother
      In doing so your focus is on resolution

      My personal opinion 🙏👼🙏

      Each order of priesthood have a purpose that is different to the other
      Redemptorists purpose is to spread the word of God through preaching …
      So they are taught that Skill to be effective
      Jesuits ate educators.. So they are trained n that Skill

      I compare this to Chef
      Bakery Indian Tamdoor Continental… Feeding His Flock through different methodology

      Third and above all
      Listening with your Heart to understand…
      What the person in the chaitr of head of an institution is saying
      The unspoken

      It’s not about 8 mins its more about being KISS… Keep it simple and sharp .. Being relevant to the context.

      I am very saddened reading this article.. …
      It was clinical surgical and dissecting with a surgical cold knife …
      My personal opinion 🙏👼🙏

    • Ashwin… Reading Your response
      U humanized the whole process so beautifully ..
      Thank u 🙏👼

  • I like how you ended your piece Fr. Warner but I disagree with you on the length of homilies. One can make a point or two in a homily in 8 minutes. If one wanted to listen to something in more detail, we have various podcasts, talks, videos with riveting speakers. What Pope Francis said was not out of the blue because there are indeed gifted homilies, but spread far too sparsely. Going to Sunday mass can be an obligation or a gift of time. Time is very precious these days. In choosing to spend it at mass, we are choosing to honour God and spend time with him. Choosing your words wisely in preparing a homily is a skill that can certainly be developed and it’s why I agreed with the end of your piece. I’m actually glad to hear this has shaken things up in churches, we had a very succinct but meaningful homily today, and I, for one was very appreciative.

  • We can spend hours at the movies, shopping, on social media, with friends partying and the like. Only when it comes to pray, mass, retreats etc. we don’t seem to find the time or the patience needed. So it’s natural the the Holy Father would be bombarded with such feedback from across the world.
    That being said, there is an onus on the Church itself to ensure that The Word is also delivered in a way that one is then interested to know more about it. Is it a wonder that we see a huge following then of certain members of the clergy like Fr. Michael. These priests are talking about the same Biblical teachings, so what is it that makes them different? To my mind it is the way they connect with the people. Firstly they are very well prepared at what they are going to speak about. Secondly, they do not mince their words to deliver messages that people want to hear. Yet, they are able to connect with the laity. How do they do it? By bringing a personal touch into their preaching- be it through live and relevant examples, laced with a touch of humor. I also understand while this is a natural skill for many, for others it might not be the case.
    The solution to this is – public speaking and presentation skills are taught as part of the training years of becoming a priest. It does not matter which order you belong to. If this means calling upon the laity to deliver such trainings , so be it. In addition to this, the priests must also be taught that spreading the Word of God, being in touch with their people (so that besides just speaking there is genuine action on The Word ) is their primary goal and not only focus on the administration of a parish. May forget this part once they are in charge or assist at a parish. Again get the laity involved to perform the administrative tasks. I know of some parishes where this is being followed, so why not make it a norm? Besides this, they also need to really prepare for the sermon they are going to preach. When they are involved with the mundane admin responsibilities, they won’t have time to prep and what we get is a watered down sermon, or just repetition of the Gospel and Readings.
    If these simple things are followed, it will enable the clergy to have an impactful sermon, which the people will be able to resonate with. When this happens perhaps they will make the attempt to implement the teachings in their lives and make a change where needed. Only then will we not need the Holy Father making statements like this and more importantly will the Word of God reach the corners of the world, as Christ wanted it to be. It’s time for the clergy and laity to work in tandem in the light of fewer vocations and hold on to the faithful before they are lost. That’s the million dollar question!

  • Thank you Fr Warner for speaking the truth in the spirit of love. As Christians we are blessed and privileged to know and have a revelation of The Word of God and The God of the Word. God has called us to be a Prophetic people to the world at large. Sadly by the way homilies are preached and scriptures interpreted and Word of God presented to the faithful we have turned out to be a pathetic people.
    Praying and hoping that your message will bring a revolution in the Church and across the leadership.
    There will be no Revivals in our lives if there is no Revival in our love for God’s Word.
    God bless you Fr Warner.

  • I completely agree with you Fr Warner even here in Canada we are so short of priests that certain parishes only have one priest, and if he cannot deliver, a good engaging homily, many of the parishioners tend to go to other parishes where they feel the preacher delivers a good homily. Infact in certain parishes with multiple priests you even see one particular mass attracts more people than the others based on the preacher. I know you have always been respectful to the holy father and I commend your courage to speak up on this issue with love and compassion because many of us Catholics use the media reports to serve our own purpose and excuses. God bless you father 🙏🏼

  • The fact that this conversation is taking place makes me so happy. It is important that the Church recognises and evaluates how to administer faith in these growing times. I often believe that if the mass format is not adapted for the changing times, our churches will soon lie empty. I personally struggle going for Sunday mass. Priests continue with long format mass and sermons while the congregation is grappling with the heat.
    As you rightly pointed out, our Priests are not trained or evaluated in homeletics, Similarly, medical students are only taught aboout 21 hours of nutition.
    One reason could be our Priests are focussing too much on administrative tasks in their Church duties rather than their core duty.

    The church can easily outsource, appoint, or segregate Priests or laity to manage the administrative duties and focus their time on upskilling and mastering homeletics. What do you think?


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