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‘I keep away from them’: Pope Francis says neurotic priests scare him

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Pope Francis on Friday described some Catholic priests as so scary and neurotic he keeps well away from them.

In comments that had his audience chuckling at a conference on training for the priesthood, the 78-year-old pontiff revealed he is instinctively suspicious of overly pious candidates.

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“I will tell you sincerely, I’m scared of rigid priests,” he said. “I keep away from them. They bite!”

Francis resorted to humour to make a serious point that some people that are drawn to a clerical career are fundamentally unstable — and that inevitably creates problems for the church if they are not weeded out.

“If you are sick, if you are neurotic, go and see a doctor, spiritual or physical,” he added. “The doctor will give you pills. But, please, don’t let the faithful pay for neurotic priests.”

As well as assessing the spiritual state of candidates, seminaries should also seek to judge their physical and psychological condition, Francis argued.

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“There are often young men who are psychologically unstable without knowing it and who look for strong structures to support them. For some it is the police or the army but for others it is the clergy,” the pope added, warning that such disorders inevitably resurface at a later date.

“When a youngster is too rigid, too fundamentalist, I don’t feel confident (about him). Behind it there is something he himself does not understand. Keep your eyes open!”

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Improved selection and training of priests is a priority for the Church in the wake of the huge clerical sex abuse scandals which highlighted how easy it was for totally unsuitable candidates to be ordained.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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