Pope’s advice to priests: keep homilies short

“No more than 10 minutes, please!”

Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square during the Wednesday general audience on May 22, 2015. (Credit: Stephan Driscoll/CNA.)

On Wednesday Pope Francis touched on a topic close to home for both parish priests and people in the pews, offering his recipe for what makes a good homily, saying they should be short and well-prepared.

However, he also pointed to the amount of complaining that happens when people are unenthusiastic about homilies, and told faithful that even when bored, they also have to make an effort by actively listening, and being patient with the limits of their pastor.

Quoting his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Francis said the homily “is not a casual discourse, nor a conference or a lesson,” but is rather a way of resuming “that dialogue which has already been opened between the Lord and his people, so that it finds fulfillment in life.”

“How many times have we seen people sleeping during a homily, or chatting among themselves, or outside smoking a cigarette?” he said. When people laughed at the notion, Francis responded, saying “it’s true, you all know it…it’s true!”

“Please,” he said, “be brief…no more than 10 minutes, please!”

Pope Francis spoke during his weekly general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, continuing his catechesis on the liturgy.

According to the Vatican Gendarmerie, roughly 8,000 people attended the Pope’s audience. After his address, they were all treated to a performance with juggling, balancing acts and other tricks by members of the Rony Rollers Circus. The spectacle has become a regular appearance in general audiences, with different circus troupes performing every few weeks.

Full story at LifeSiteNews.


  1. Anonymous says:

    This from a guy whose Amoris Laetitia is 254 pages of mostly boring prose and is terribly unclear in some crucial places.

    Rather than asking priests to be brief, how about asking them to be substantive and clear? People will not fall asleep during a long homily as long as it is engaging and worthwhile. Length is not the problem: lack of substance and lack of diligent preparation are.

    By the way, have you seen photos of the pope greeting the scantily clad, buffed-out male acrobat at the audience in question in this article? Look them up. Ann Barnhardt has them.

    • The contempt in your words for the Holy Father is most definitely not Catholic. Shameful.

      • That which is contemptible deserves contempt.

        • Anonymous should be reminded of Can. 1373: “A person who publicly incites among subjects animosities or hatred against the Apostolic See or an ordinary because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry or provokes subjects to disobey them is to be punished by an interdict or other just penalties.”

          • jon should be reminded that tossing out canons that don’t apply is ignorant and arrogant. Legitimately criticizing acts, deeds, statements, decisions, optics or behavior of a pope is not inciting animosity or hatred. Expressing informed disapproval is not hatred. Having contempt for that which is contemptible is not the same as having contempt for a person as person. Having contempt for what a person has done is not the same as having contempt for that person.

          • Sorry but Anonymous’ rebuttal will not float, because he/she indeed has demonstrated contempt for the person by referring to the Holy Father in such an inappropriately informal way not befitting from a Catholic who reveres the office or the person: (“a guy”). Plus, Anonymous is being disingenuous by characterizing that he/she is “legitimately criticizing….statements” when his/her critique of Amoris Laetitia is that it is “boring.” Thirdly, what of it if the Holy Father happens to be photographed with an acrobat? The added detail that the acrobat is “buffed” out is superfluous and intimates something totally inappropriate.

        • Pope Francis is not contemptible. He is the Vicar of Christ. He is our Holy Father.
          I know there were a lot of people who criticized Pope Benedict XVI and other Popes. It is very offensive to God to do this.
          If you aren’t at a place where you understand what the Holy Spirit is doing, then it is better to be humble and pray for understanding than to criticize.

          • You put words in my mouth. Francis has done and said things deserving of severe criticism. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing what deserves it. There is nothing offensive to God about criticizing a pope legitimately. Paul criticized Peter openly to his face to tell him that he was manifestly in the wrong. Stop the holier-than-thou and the ultramontane nonsense.

          • LifeSite is reporting that Pope Francis is covering up sexual abuse and protecting the clergy abusers:

            Is that what you mean by getting to a place where you understand what the Holy Spirit is doing under this pontificate?

            Pope Francis protected his homosexual pederast friend Barros in Chile, elevated him to bishop after the CDF recommended he be defrocked based on evidence, removed the CDF members who had recommended Barros’ removal, and continues to protect him.

            Is that what the Holy Spirit is doing????

          • The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with sin.

          • Paul disagreed with Peter-to his face. He didn’t go around anonymously criticizing him behind his back on the internet. Grumbling is a sin.
            God chose him, not you.

          • I am not holier-than-thou. The faithlessness of Catholics in general just amazes me. Pride and lack of humility in Catholics is more common . Catholics will justify anything that they want to do, whether it is criticize the Pope or have gay sex. It is rare to find the publican in a Catholic.

  2. AMEN, AMEN. Otherwise, ZZZZZ! Even if I’m physically awake, I start to turn off after about eight minutes. As an old priest said, be brief and be done. Also, please do NOT read it. I view that as the mortal sin of preaching.

    • I couldn’t disagree more with mike m and the Pope. I’m with Anonymous at 5:27. With no substantial continuing education in Catholic life and practice for most parishioners except what they hear on Sunday morning, priests have a marvelous opportunity to provide substance, stimulate and edify. If the priest has a real heart for God it will show in what he says and how he says it. “Be brief and be done”? And accomplish what, I ask you, besides keep mike from snoring?

  3. Amen. When I was ordained, my elderly aunt said to me, “Richard, when you preach, don’t talk for more than 10 minutes because all those priests who talk for more than 10 minutes do is repeat themselves.” The wisdom from the pews!

  4. I wish that homilies were longer. But then, I go to a church where the priest is a Thomist and knows what he is talking about.

  5. Short but impactful and memorable homilies is the way to go. In general, the priests give a much better homily now than 60 years ago back when I was a kid…prior to Vatican II.

  6. Maybe with shorter homilies people will hang around until mass is ended and not walk out after receiving communion, Riiiiiight. Great advise right along with “dont breed like rabbits”. You cant make this stuff up.

  7. Approved ten-minute homily topics by the Holy Father for priests of the world:
    Who are you to judge?
    Don’t breed like rabbits.
    Time is greater than space.
    Sometimes 2+2=5 in religion.
    Over half of all marriages are invalid.
    You must welcome all immigrants.
    The complexities of concrete life can make sin your best choice.
    The liturgical reform is unstoppable.
    Nothing before the Francis pontificate matters anymore.

    • Mary, beloved Mother, who showed your precious Patronage in the triumph of Pope Pius VII, extend your holy mantle over Holy Mother Church, especially over her august head, against the assaults of so many enemies; deliver him from temporal sufferings and assist him always that he may securely steer the barque of Peter in Truth, and overcome the proud waves attempting to sink it.

  8. Deacon Craig Anderson says:

    I generally agree with what the Holy Father said and do so as one who preaches homilies. That said, it seems the Pope is micro-managing parish matters that should be dealt with by pastors and bishops. Subsidiarity is an important Catholic principle. And, is it not the Pope’s role to deal with issues dividing the universal Church, like some, including bishops, who seem to betray the teachings of Christ and His Church on much more important matters like sexuality and marriage?

  9. Ten minutes is more than long enough. After eight minutes most of the congregation is looking at their watches and the kids are getting restless.

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