Pope Francis encouraged priests on Monday not to “remain barricaded in the sacristy” as the world is “waiting for the Gospel.”

In an address to members of Rome’s Pontifical Lombard Seminary at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Feb. 7, the pope noted that Achille Ratti, the future Pope Pius XI, had studied at the institution.

“As soon as he was elected, Pius XI chose to look out no longer from inside St. Peter’s Basilica, but from the external loggia,” he said, explaining that the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square had not been opened for years before Pius XI’s election 100 years ago in 1922.

“With this gesture he reminds us that we need to open up, to expand the horizon of ministry to the dimensions of the world, to reach out to every child, whom God wishes to embrace with his love.”

The pope went on: “Please, let us not remain barricaded in the sacristy and cultivate small closed groups where we can snuggle up and be comfortable.”

“There is a world waiting for the Gospel and the Lord desires His shepherds to be conformed to Him, carrying in their hearts and on their shoulders the expectations and burdens of the flock. Open, compassionate, merciful hearts.”

The Pontifical Lombard Seminary of Saints Ambrose and Charles in Urbe was founded in 1854 by the bishops of Lombardy, northern Italy. Located today near the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, it is a residence for diocesan priests pursuing advanced studies at Rome’s pontifical universities.

The pope recalled that Pius XI, who led the Church until 1939, wrote several social encyclicals, including Quadragesimo anno, which lamented that “an immense power and despotic economic dictatorship is consolidated in the hands of a few.”

Pope Francis said that his predecessor’s words were “very topical.”

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“How true and how tragic this is now, as the gap between the rich few and the poor many grows ever wider. In this context of inequalities, which the pandemic has increased, you will find yourselves living and working as priests of the Second Vatican Council, as signs and instruments of human communion with God and with one another,” he said, alluding to the opening sentences of Lumen gentium, one of the major documents of Vatican II.

“Therefore, be weavers of communion, eradicators of inequalities, pastors attentive to the signs of suffering of the people. Even through the knowledge you are acquiring, be competent and courageous in raising prophetic words on behalf of the voiceless.”