Prayer and friendship

Publish date 01-07-2022

by Domenico Agasso

In this time of reporting on pedophilia and sexual scandals in the Church, the Vatican stopped for three days in February to reflect on the priesthood.
The basic question was posed by Cardinal Marc Ouellet (photo), prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, who organized the international symposium For a fundamental theology of the priesthood: what "can one expect in the current historical context, dominated by from the drama of sexual abuse perpetrated by clerics? "

Pope Francis opened the works in the Paul VI Hall with a long, in-depth and articulated speech: "I don't know if these reflections are the" swan song "of my priestly life, but I can certainly assure you that they come from my experience. No theory here, I'm talking about what I experienced ». As a Church "too often, and even today, we have given obedience an interpretation that is far from the feeling of the Gospel", says the Pontiff, pointing out to priests the importance of "closeness to the bishop".
Obedience "is not a disciplinary attribute but the deepest characteristic of the bonds that unite us in communion - he explains -. Obeying means learning to listen and remembering that no one can claim to be the holder of God's will, and that it must be understood only through discernment. Obedience therefore is listening to the will of God which is discerned precisely in a bond ".

According to the Bishop of Rome, "this attitude of listening allows us to develop the idea that no one is the principle and foundation of life, but everyone must necessarily confront the others".
This logic "of proximity - in this case with the bishop, but also applies to the others - allows us to break all temptations of closure, self-justification and lead a life" as a bachelor ", or as a" bachelor ". When priests close, they close ..., they end up "bachelors" with all the manias of "bachelors", and this is not nice. On the contrary, this closeness invites us to appeal to other instances to find the way that leads to truth and to life ".

During the meeting there was also talk of priestly celibacy. Where “priestly fraternity functions and there are bonds of true friendship, there it is also possible to live the celibate choice with more serenity. Celibacy is a gift that the Latin Church guards, but it is a gift that, in order to be lived as sanctification, requires healthy relationships, relationships of true esteem and true good that find their root in Christ. Without friends and without prayer, celibacy can become an unbearable burden and a counter-witness to the very beauty of the priesthood ".

Domenico Agasso
NP March 2022

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