- 04 August 2016
There are parishes with parish secretaries who seem to be 'disciples of Satan', Pope Francis said in a private meeting with Polish bishops during his visit to Poland for World Youth Day.
Unlike previous trips where the Pope has given public speeches upbraiding national hierarchies, Francis chose a closed-doors meeting with the 117-member bishops' conference in the Kraków cathedral. The released transcript is of the question-and-answer portion of the 90-minute meeting.
Answering a question from Polish Auxiliary Bishop Leszek Leszkiewicz on whether parishes are still the best way to reach people and on how to build up missionary zeal, the Pope stressed that the parish "is the house of the people of God" and must have its doors wide open to receive people.
But he warned: "There are parishes with parish secretaries who seem to be 'disciples of Satan' and scare people; parishes with closed doors," he said.
The highly anticipated meeting came at a time of reported disagreements within the Polish Church over certain aspects of the Pope's teaching, including his appeals for sheltering refugees.
Auxiliary Bishop Krzysztof Zadarko of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg asked the Pope not only how to help the large number of refugees coming into Europe, but how to overcome "the fear of a possible invasion or aggression that has paralysed society."
Pope Francis said all countries are different and that a universal response can't be given because "it depends on the situation of every country and culture." However, what must remain absolute is the need "to have an open heart ready to receive" those escaping violence and persecution. "This is absolute!"
The Pope highlighted the need to place the issue of refugees in its proper "context," adding that the spread of ideologies has contributed to the wars and exploitation that cause people to flee as well as to the confusion many people feel in trying to resolve the problem.