Pope tells seminarians to integrate spiritual, intellectual lives

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Candidates to the priesthood must integrate their spiritual, intellectual and community lives so they become pastors who can respond to the needs of their communities, Pope Francis said.

"This path of configuring (oneself) to Jesus the good shepherd must be done by taking care of four aspects: spiritual life, study, community life and apostolic activity," he told a group of 36 seminarians from the Archdiocese of Seville, Spain.

Meeting at the Vatican April 20, the pope told them that integrating those four areas "is necessary, I would say urgent, to become priests capable of responding to the vocation (you have) received in total self-giving to God and to your brothers and sisters, especially those who most suffer."

COPE, the radio station owned by the Spanish bishops' conference, reported that the pope spent time directly responding to questions posed by the seminarians during their audience.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Archbishop José Ángel Saiz Meneses of Seville said the pope encouraged the seminarians to hold onto "the joy that should reign in our priestly lives" and to "avoid the danger of spiritual worldliness, which is introduced through very correct ways but the base of which is sterile."

In his brief remarks, Pope Francis cited Blessed Marcelo Spínola Maestre who was archbishop of Seville in the late 19th century.

"Virtue and knowledge are the two things that should be prioritized in teaching those aspiring to the priesthood," he said quoting the blessing, "since knowledge without virtue elevates and does not edify, and virtue without knowledge edifies but does not instruct."