ROME, MARCH 31, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The priest is
not an employee, but rather a consecrated person
chosen by God to serve mankind, says the secretary for
the Congregation for Clergy.
Archbishop Mauro Piacenza
described the priesthood in this way in L´Osservatore
Romano earlier this month.
cannot be plentifully fulfilled if the Eucharist is not truly
the center and the root of his life,"
the prelate said, affirming that the priest´s daily
efforts must be an "irradiation of the Eucharistic celebration."
As the Gospel account of Christ´s washing of
the feet testifies, the priest´s task is found
in unconditional surrender, Archbishop Piacenza said. "The priest does not
belong to himself. He is at the service
of the people of God without limits of
schedules or calendars."
"The people are not for the
priest, but the priest is for the people,
in its totality, without ever restricting his service
to a small group," the prelate added. "The priest cannot
choose the post he likes, the work methods
he considers easiest, the people he considers most
likable, the schedule that is most comfortable, the diversions --
even legitimate ones -- when they take away
time and energy from his own specific pastoral
Moreover, even acting in the world, the priest
is nevertheless not "assimilated in the world […]
ceasing to be transforming leaven," Archbishop Piacenza continued.
"Faced with a world anemic from the lack
of prayer and adoration, of truth and justice, the priest
is above all a man of prayer, of
adoration, of worship, of the celebrations of the holy mysteries,
´before man in the name of Christ.´"
The Vatican official said the
priest´s commitment is "testimony, understood in its etymological
sense as martyr […] in the renewed consciousness that Christ,
ordinarily, comes to us only ´in the´ Church
and ´from the´ Church, which prolongs his presence
The Church, he said, is "transcendent and
mysterious" and "only if it does not deny
its own supernatural identity […] can it authentically
evangelize the ´natural´ realities. […] The Church has the
´negative´ task of freeing the world of atheism and
the ´positive´ [task] of satisfying the indelible need
that man, consciously or unconsciously, has of fulfilling
himself, that is to say, of holiness."
the priest should "respond to the burning thirst
of a humanity always seeking," and to sow
a restlessness that is "the holy fear of God."
At the same time, Archbishop Piacenza added, the
current vocational crisis can be served by opening
the "vast horizons of the whole picture of following Christ,"
while attempts to reduce the identity of the
priest and pastoral ministry brings "everything to languish
along the path of a progressive drying out."
is the light of the configuration of the
priest with Jesus Christ that helps to understand
the promises of obedience and chastity lived in celibacy, in
the commitment to a path of detachment from
things, situations and from themselves, he said.
At the altar
The archbishop highlighted that "chastity
guarantees the spousal dimension and the great paternity" and
recalled that "in all of this there are
not ´no´s´ but a great, liberating ´yes.´"
priest never goes into identity crisis, nor loneliness, nor
cultural frustration if, resisting the temptation of losing
himself in the anonymous multitude, he never descends
-- regarding intention, moral uprightness and style -- from the
platform of the altar of the sacrifice of
the body and blood of Christ," the archbishop
Nevertheless, he acknowledged, faced with "an ever
more notable disintegration of the links between persons, in
every social environment […] we cannot think that
the figure of the celibate priest will not
suffer the backlash of these countless solitudes."
the archbishop concluded, there is a "need of
priests who know how to show the fruitfulness
for communion and for the community of their virginal ´solitude.´"