Presbyterorum Ordinis EN 9
9 Though priests of the New Testament, in virtue of the sacrament of Orders, exercise the most outstanding and necessary office of father and teacher among and for the People of God, they are nevertheless, together with all Christ's faithful, disciples of the Lord, made sharers in his Kingdom by the grace of God's call.(50) For priests are brothers among brothers(51) with all those who have been reborn at the baptismal font. They are all members of one and the same Body of Christ, the building up of which is required of everyone.(52)
Priests, therefore, must take the lead in seeking the things of Jesus Christ, not the things that are their own.(53) They must work together with the lay faithful, and conduct themselves in their midst after the example of their Master, who among men "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as redemption for many" (Mt 20,28). Priests must sincerely acknowledge and promote the dignity of the laity and the part proper to them in the mission of the Church. And they should hold in high honor that just freedom which is due to everyone in the earthly city. They must willingly listen to the laity, consider their wants in a fraternal spirit, recognize their experience and competence in the different areas of human activity, so that together with them they will be able to recognize the signs of the times. While trying the spirits to see if they be of God,(54) priests should uncover with a sense of faith, acknowledge with joy and foster with diligence the various humble and exalted charisms of the laity. Among the other gifts of God, which are found in abundance among the laity, those are worthy of special mention by which not a few of the laity are attracted to a higher spiritual life. Likewise, they should confidently entrust to the laity duties in the service of the Church, allowing them freedom and room for action; in fact, they should invite them on suitable occasions to undertake worlds on their own initiative.(55)
Finally priests have been placed in the midst of the laity to lead them to the unity of charity, "loving one another with fraternal love, eager to give one another precedence" (Rm 12,10). It is their task, therefore, to reconcile differences of mentality in such a way that no one need feel himself a stranger in the community of the faithful. They are defenders of the common good, with which they are charged in the name of the bishop. At the same time, they are strenuous assertors of the truth, lest the faithful be carried about by every wind of doctrine.(56) They are united by a special solicitude with those who have fallen away from the use of the sacraments, or perhaps even from the faith. Indeed, as good shepherds, they should not cease from going out to them.
Mindful of the prescripts on ecumenism,(57) let them not forget their brothers who do not enjoy full ecclesiastical communion with us.
Finally, they have entrusted to them all those who do not recognize Christ as their Savior.
The Christian faithful, for their part, should realize their obligations to their priests, and with filial love they should follow them as their pastors and fathers. In like manner, sharing their cares, they should help their priests by prayer and work insofar as possible so that their priests might more readily overcome difficulties and be able to fulfill their duties more fruitfully.(58)
50 Cf. 1Th 2,12 Col 1,13
51 Cf. Mt 23,8. Also Paul VI, encyclical letter , Aug. 6, 1964: AAS 58 (1964) p 647.
52 Cf. Ep 4,7 Ep 4,6; Constitutions of the Apostles, VIII, 1, 20: (ed. F.X. Funk, I, p. 467).
53 Cf. Ph 2,21
54 Cf. 1Jn 4,1
55 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution LG 37, Nov. 21, 1964: AAS 57 (1965), pp 42-43.
56 Cf. Ep 4,14
57 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on Ecumenism, Nov. 21, 1964: AAS 57 (1965), pp 90ff.
58 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution LG 37, Nov 21, 1964: AAS 57 (1965), pp 42-43.
10 The spiritual gift which priests receive at their ordination prepared them not for a sort of limited and narrow mission but for the widest possible and universal mission of salvation "even to the ends of the earth" (Ac 1,8), for every priestly ministry shares in the universality of the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles. The priesthood of Christ, in which all priests really share, is necessarily intended for all peoples and all times, and it knows no limits of blood, nationality or time, since it is already mysteriously prefigured in the person of Melchisedech.(59) Let priests remember, therefore, that the care of all churches must be their intimate concern. Hence, priests of such dioceses as are rich in vocations should show themselves willing and ready, with the permission of their own ordinaries (bishops), to volunteer for work in other regions, missions or endeavors which are poor in numbers of clergy.
Present norms of incardination and excardination should be so revised that, while this ancient institution still remains intact, they will better correspond to today's pastoral needs. Where a real apostolic spirit requires it, not only should a better distribution of priests be brought about but there should also be favored such particular pastoral works as are necessary in any region or nation anywhere on earth. To accomplish this purpose there should be set up international seminaries, special personal dioceses or prelatures (vicariates), and so forth, by means of which, according to their particular statutes and always saving the right of bishops, priests may be trained and incardinated for the good of the whole Church.
Priests should not be sent singly to a new field of labor, especially to one where they are not completely familiar with the language and customs; rather, after the example of the disciples of Christ,(60) they should be sent two or three together so that they may be mutually helpful to one another. Likewise, thoughtful care should be given to their spiritual life as well as their mental and bodily welfare; and, so far as is possible, the circumstances and conditions of labor should be adapted to individual needs and capabilities. At the same time it will be quite advantageous if those priests who go to work in a nation new to them not only know well the language of that place but also the psychological and social milieu peculiar to the people they go to serve, so that they may communicate with them easily, thus following the example of Paul the Apostle who could say of himself: "For when I was free of all I made myself the servant of all, that I might win over many. Among Jews I was a Jew that I might win over the Jews" (1Co 9,19-20).
59 Cf. He 7,3 60 Cf. Lc 10,1
11 The Shepherd and Bishop of our souls(61) so constituted his Church that the people whom he chose and acquired by his blood(62) would have its priests to the end of time, and that Christians would never be like sheep without a shepherd.(63) Recognizing Christ's desire, and at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostles considered it their duty to select men "who will be capable of teaching others" (2Tm 2,2). This duty, then, is a part oś the priestly mission by which every priest becomes a sharer in the care of the whole Church, lest ministers be ever lacking for the People of God on earth. Since, however, there is common cause between the captain of a ship and the sailors,(64) let all Christian people be taught that it is their duty to cooperate in one way or another, by constant prayer and other means at their disposal,(65) that the Church will always have a sufficient number of priests to carry out her divine mission. In the first place, therefore, it is the duty of priests, by the ministry of the word and by the example of their own lives, showing forth the spirit of service and the paschal joy to demonstrate to the faithful the excellence and necessity of the priesthood; then they should see to it that young men and adults whom they judge worthy of such ministry should be called by their bishops to ordination, sparing no effort or inconvenience in helping them to prepare for this call, always saving their internal and external freedom of action. In this effort, diligent and prudent spiritual direction is of the greatest value. Parents and teachers and all who are engaged in any way in the education of boys and young men should so prepare them that they will recognize the solicitude of our Lord for his flock, will consider the needs of the Church, and will be prepared to respond generously to our Lord when he calls, saying: "Here I am Lord, send me" (Is 6,8). This voice of the Lord calling, however, is never to be expected as something which in an extraordinary manner will be heard by the ears of the future priest. It is rather to be known and understood in the manner in which the will of God is daily made known to prudent Christians. These indications should be carefully noted by priests.(66)
Works favoring vocations, therefore, whether diocesan or national, are highly recommended to the consideration of priests.(67) In sermons, in catechetical instructions, and written articles, priests should set forth the needs of the Church both locally and universally, putting into vivid light the nature and excellence of the priestly ministry, which consoles heavy burdens with great joys, and in which in a special way, as the Fathers of the Church point out, the greatest love of Christ can be shown.(68)
61 Cf. 1P 2,25 62 Cf. Ac 20,28 63 Cf. Mt 9,36
64 Roman Pontifical, on the ordination of a priest.
65 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on Priestly Training, Oct. 28, 1965, n (OT 2).
66 Paul VI, allocution of May 5, 1965: L'Osservatore Romano, 5-6-65, p 1.
67 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on Priestly Training, Oct. 28, 1965, n (OT 2).
68 The Fathers teach this in their explanations of Christ's words to Peter: "Do you love me? ...Feed my sheep." (Jn 21,17); This St. John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, II, 1-2 (PG 47-48, 633); St.Gregory the Great, Reg. Past. Liber, P I c. 5 (PL 77, 19 a).
12 Priests are made in the likeness of Christ the Priest by the Sacrament of Orders, so that they may, in collaboration with their bishops, work for the building up and care of the Church which is the whole Body of Christ, acting as ministers of him who is the Head. Like all other Christians they have received in the sacrament of Baptism the symbol and gift of such a calling and such grace that even in human weakness(1) they can and must seek for perfection, according to the exhortation of Christ: "Be you therefore perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5,48). Priests are bound, however, to acquire that perfection in special fashion. They have been consecrated by God in a new manner at their ordination and made living instruments of Christ the Eternal Priest that they may be able to carry on in time his marvelous work whereby the entire family of man is again made whole by power from above.(2) Since, therefore, every priest in his own fashion acts in place of Christ himself, he is enriched by a special grace, so that, as he serves the flock committed to him and the entire People of God, he may the better grow in the grace of him whose tasks he performs, because to the weakness of our flesh there is brought the holiness of him who for us was made a High Priest "holy, guiltless, undefiled not reckoned among us sinners" (He 7,26).
Christ, whom the Father sanctified, consecrated and sent into the world,(3) "gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and cleanse for himself an acceptable people, pursuing good works" (Tt 2,14), and thus through suffering entered into his glory.(4) In like fashion, priests consecrated by the anointing of the Holy Spirit and sent by Christ must mortify the works of the flesh in themselves and give themselves entirely to the service of men. It is in this way that they can go forward in that holiness with which Christ endows them to perfect man.(5)
Hence, those who exercise the ministry of the spirit and of justice(6) will be confirmed in the life of the spirit, so long as they are open to the Spirit of Christ, who gives them life and direction. By the sacred actions which are theirs daily as well as by their entire ministry which they share with the bishop and their fellow priests, they are directed to perfection in their lives. Holiness does much for priests in carrying on a fruitful ministry. Although divine grace could use unworthy ministers to effect the work of salvation, yet for the most part God chooses, to show forth his wonders, those who are more open to the power and direction of the Holy Spirit, and who can by reason of their close union with Christ and their holiness of life say with St. Paul: "And yet I am alive; or rather, not I; it is Christ that lives in me" (Ga 2,20).
Hence, this holy council, to fulfill its pastoral desires of an internal renewal of the Church, of the spread of the Gospel in every land and of a dialogue with the world of today, strongly urges all priests that they strive always for that growth in holiness by which they will become consistently better instruments in the service of the whole People of God, using for this purpose those means which the Church has approved.(7)
1. Cf. 2Co 12,9
2. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, Dec. 20, 1935: AAS 28 (1936) Ad catholici sacerdotii .
3. Cf. Jn 10,36
4. Lc 24,26
5. Cf. Ep 4,13
6. Cf. 2Co 3,8-9
7. Cf. among others: St. Pius X, exhortation to the clergy Haerent Animo, Aug. 4, 1908: St. Pius X, AAS 4 (1908), pp 237ff. Pius XI, encyclical letter Ad catholici sacerdotii , Dec. 20, 1935; AAS 28 (1936). Pius XII apostolic exhortation Menti nostrae, Sept. 23, 1950: AAS (1950) 657ff. John XXIII, encyclical letter Sacerdoti Nostri Primordia, Aug. 1, 1959: AAS 51 (1959) 545ff.
13 Priests who perform their duties sincerely and indefatigably in the Spirit of Christ arrive at holiness by this very fact.
Since they are ministers of God's word, each day they read and hear the word of God, which it is their task to teach others. If at the same time they are ready to receive the word themselves they will grow daily into more perfect followers of the Lord. As St. Paul wrote to Timothy, "Let this be thy study, these thy employments, so that all may see how well thou doest. Two things claim thy attention, thyself and the teaching of the faith, spend thy care on them; so wilt thou and those who listen to thee achieve salvation" (1Tm 4,15-16). As they seek how they may better teach others what they have learned,(8) they will better understand "the unfathomable riches of Christ" (Ep 3,8) and the manifold wisdom of God.(9) If they keep in mind that it is God who opens hearts,(10) and that power comes not from themselves but from the might of God,(11) in the very fact of teaching God's word they will be brought closer to Christ the Teacher and led by his Spirit. Thus those who commune with Christ share in God's love, the mystery of which, kept hidden from the beginning of time,(12) is revealed in Christ.
Priests act especially in the person of Christ as ministers of holy things, particularly in the Sacrifice of the Mass, the sacrifice of Christ who gave himself for the sanctification of men. Hence, they are asked to take example from that with which they deal, and inasmuch as they celebrate the mystery of the Lord's death they should keep their bodies free of wantonness and lusts.(13) In the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which priests fulfill their greatest task, the work of our redemption is being constantly carried on;(14) and hence the daily celebration of Mass is strongly urged, since even if there cannot be present a number of the faithful, it is still an act of Christ and of the Church.(15) Thus when priests join in the act of Christ the Priest, they offer themselves entirely to God, and when they are nourished with the body of Christ they profoundly share in the love of him who gives himself as food to the faithful. In like fashion they are united with the intention and love of Christ when they administer the sacraments. This is true in a special way when in the performance of their duty in the sacrament of Penance they show themselves altogether and always ready whenever the sacrament is reasonably sought by the faithful. In the recitation of the Divine Office, they offer the voice of the Church which perseveres in prayer in the name of the whole human race, together with Christ who "lives on still to make intercession on our behalf."
As they direct and nourish the People of God, may they be aroused by the example of the Good Shepherd that they may give their life for their sheep,(16) ready for the supreme sacrifice following the example of priests who, even in our own day, have not shrunk from giving their lives. As they are leaders in the faith and as they "enter the sanctuary with confidence, through the blood of Christ" (He 10,19) they approach God "with sincere hearts in the full assurance of the faith" (He 10,22) they set up a sure hope for their faithful,(17) that they may comfort those who are depressed by the same consolation wherewith God consoles them.(18) As leaders of the community they cultivate an asceticism becoming to a shepherd of souls, renouncing their personal convenience, seeking not what is useful to themselves but to many, for their salvation,(19) always making further progress to do their pastoral work better and, where needful, prepared to enter into new pastoral ways under the direction of the Spirit of Love, which breathes where it will.(20)
8. Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theol. II-II 188,7.
9. Cf. He 3,9-10 10. Ac 16,14 11. Cf. 2Co 4,7 12. Cf. Ep 3,9
13. Cf. Roman Pontifical on the ordination of priests.
14. Cf. Roman Missal, Prayer over the Offerings of the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
15. Paul VI, encyclical letter Mysterium Fidei MF 1, Sept. 3, 1965: AAS 57 (1965), pp 761-762. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Dec. 4, 1963, nn (SC 26 SC 27); AAS 56 (1964), p 107.
16. Cf. Jn 10,11 17. Cf. 2Co 1,7 18. Cf. 2Co 1,4 19. Cf. 1Co 10,33 20. Cf. Jn 3,8
14 In the world of today, when people are so burdened with duties and their problems, which oftentimes have to be solved with great haste, range through so many fields, there is considerable danger of dissipating their energy. Priests, too, involved and constrained by so many obligations of their office, certainly have reason to wonder how they can coordinate and balance their interior life with feverish outward activity. Neither the mere external performance of the works of the ministry, nor the exclusive engagement in pious devotion, although very helpful, can bring about this necessary coordination. Priests can arrive at this only by following the example of Christ our Lord in their ministry. His food was to follow the will of him who had sent him to accomplish his work.(21)
In order to continue doing the will of his Father in the world, Christ works unceasingly through the Church. He operates through his ministers, and hence he remains always the source and wellspring of the unity of their lives. Priests, then, can achieve this coordination and unity of life by joining themselves with Christ to acknowledge the will of the Father. For them this means a complete gift of themselves to the flock committed to them.(22) Hence, as they fulfill the role of the Good Shepherd, in the very exercise of their pastoral charity they will discover a bond of priestly perfection which draws their life and activity to unity and coordination. This pastoral charity(23) flows out in a very special way from the Eucharistic sacrifice. This stands as the root and center of the whole life of a priest. What takes place on the altar of sacrifice, the priestly heart must make his own. This cannot be done unless priests through prayer continue to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of Christ.
In order to measure and verify this coordination of life in a concrete way, let priests examine all their works and projects to see what is the will of God (24)-namely, to see how their endeavors compare with the goals of the Gospel mission of the Church. Fidelity to Christ cannot be separated from faithfulness to his Church. Pastoral charity requires that priests avoid operating in a vacuum(25) and that they work in a strong bond of union with their bishops and brother priests. If this be their program, priests will find the coordination and unity of their own life in the oneness of the Church's mission. They will be joined with the Lord and through him with the Father in the Holy Spirit. This will bring them great satisfaction and a full measure of happiness.(26)
21. Cf. Jn 4,34 22. Cf. 1Jn 3,16
23. "May it be a duty of love to feed the Lord's flock" (St. Augustine, Tract on John 123,5, PL 35, 1967).
24. Cf. Rm 12,2 25. Cf. Ga 2,2 26. Cf. 2Co 7,4
15 Among the virtues that priests must possess for their sacred ministry none is so important as a frame of mind and soul whereby they are always ready to know and do the will of him who sent them and not their own will.(27) The divine task that they are called by the Holy Spirit to fulfill(28) surpasses all human wisdom and human ability. "God chooses the weak things of the world to confound the strong" (1Co 1,27). Aware of his own weakness, the true minister of Christ works in humility trying to do what is pleasing to God.(29) Filled with the Holy Spirit,(30) he is guided by him who desires the salvation of all men. He understands this desire of God and follows it in the ordinary circumstances of his everyday life. With humble disposition he waits upon all whom God has sent him to serve in the work assigned to him and in the multiple experiences of his life.
However, the priestly ministry, since it is the ministry of the Church itself, can only function in the hierarchical union of the whole body. Pastoral charity, therefore, urges priests, as they operate in the framework of this union, to dedicate their own will by obedience to the service of God and their fellow men. In a great spirit of faith, let them receive and execute whatever orders the holy father, their own bishop, or other superiors give or recommend.
With a willing heart let them spend and even exhaust themselves(31) in whatever task they are given, even though it be menial and unrecognized. They must preserve and strengthen a necessary oneness with their brothers in the ministry, especially with those whom God has selected as visible rulers of his Church. For in this way they are laboring to build the Body of Christ which grows "through every gesture of service."(32) This obedience is designed to promote the mature freedom of the children of God; by its very nature it postulates that in the carrying out of their work, spurred on by charity, they develop new approaches and methods for the greater good of the Church. With enthusiasm and courage, let priests propose new projects and strive to satisfy the needs of their flocks. Of course, they must be ready to submit to the decisions of those who rule the Church of God.
By this humility and by willing responsible obedience, priests conform themselves to Christ. They make their own the sentiments of Jesus Christ who "emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant," becoming obedient even to death (Ph 2,7-9). By this obedience he conquered and made up for the disobedience of Adam, as the Apostle testifies, "for as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just"(Rm 5,19).
27. Cf. Jn 4,34 Jn 5,30 Jn 6,38 28. Cf. Ac 13,2 29. Cf. Ep 5,10 30. Cf. Ac 20,22 31. Cf. 2Co 12,15 32. Cf. Ep 4,11-16
16 Perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, commended by Christ the Lord(33) and through the course of time as well as in our own days freely accepted and observed in a praiseworthy manner by many of the faithful, is held by the Church to be of great value in a special manner for the priestly life. It is at the same time a sign and a stimulus for pastoral charity and a special source of spiritual fecundity in the world.(34) Indeed, it is not demanded by the very nature of the priesthood, as is apparent from the practice of the early Church(35) and from the traditions of the Eastern Churches. where, besides those who with all the bishops, by a gift of grace, choose to observe celibacy, there are also married priests of highest merit. This holy synod, while it commends ecclesiastical celibacy, in no way intends to alter that different discipline which legitimately flourishes in the Eastern Churches. It permanently exhorts all those who have received the priesthood and marriage to persevere in their holy vocation so that they may fully and generously continue to expend themselves for the sake of the flock commended to them.(36)
Indeed, celibacy has a many-faceted suitability for the priesthood. For the whole priestly mission is dedicated to the service of a new humanity which Christ, the victor over death, has aroused through his Spirit in the world and which has its origin "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God (Jn 1,13). Through virginity, then, or celibacy observed for the Kingdom of Heaven,(37) priests are consecrated to Christ by a new and exceptional reason. They adhere to him more easily with an undivided heart,(38) they dedicate themselves more freely in him and through him to the service of God and men, and they more expeditiously minister to his Kingdom and the work of heavenly regeneration, and thus they are apt to accept, in a broad sense, paternity in Christ. In this way they profess themselves before men as willing to be dedicated to the office committed to them-namely, to commit themselves faithfully to one man and to show themselves as a chaste virgin for Christ(39) and thus to evoke the mysterious marriage established by Christ, and fully to be manifested in the future, in which the Church has Christ as her only Spouse.(40) They give, moreover, a living sign of the world to come, by a faith and charity already made present, in which the children of the resurrection neither marry nor take wives.(41)
For these reasons, based on the mystery of Christ and his mission, celibacy, which first was recommended to priests, later in the Latin Church was imposed upon all who were to be promoted to sacred orders. This legislation, pertaining to those who are destined for the priesthood, this holy synod again approves and confirms, fully trusting this gift of the Spirit so fitting for the priesthood of the New Testament, freely given by the Father, provided that those who participate in the priesthood of Christ through the sacrament of Orders-and also the whole Church-humbly and fervently pray for it. This sacred synod also exhorts all priests who, in following the example of Christ, freely receive sacred celibacy as a grace of God, that they magnanimously and wholeheartedly adhere to it, and that persevering faithfully in it, they may acknowledge this outstanding gift of the Father which is so openly praised and extolled by the Lord.(42) Let them keep before their eyes the great mysteries signified by it and fulfilled in it. Insofar as perfect continence is thought by many men to be impossible in our times, to that extent priests should all the more humbly and steadfastly pray with the Church for that grace of fidelity, which is never denied those who seek it, and use all the supernatural and natural aids available. They should especially seek, lest they omit them, the ascetical norms which have been proved by the experience of the Church and which are scarcely less necessary in the contemporary world. This holy synod asks not only priests but all the faithful that they might receive this precious gift of priestly celibacy in their hearts and ask of God that he will always bestow this gift upon his Church.
33. Cf. Mt 19,22
34. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution LG 42, Nov. 21, 1964: AAS 57 (1965) pp 47-49.
35. Cf. 1Tm 3,2-5 Tt 1,6.
36. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter Ad catholici sacerdotii Dec. 30, 1935: AAS 28 (1936) p 28.
37. Cf. Mt 19,12 38. Cf. 1Co 7,32-34 39. Cf. 2Co 11,2
40. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution LG 42 LG 44, Nov. 21, 1964: AAS 57 (1965), pp 47-49 and 50-51; Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life, Oct. 18, 1965, n PC 12.
41. Cf. Lc 20,35-36; Pius XI, encyclical letter Ad catholici sacerdotii Dec. 20, 1935, AAS 28 (1936) pp 24-28; Pius XII, encyclical letter Sacra Virginitas, March 25, 1954, AAS 46 (1954) nn 169-172.
42. Cf. Mt 19,11 43. Cf. Jn 17,14-16 44. Cf. 1Co 7,31
17 In their friendly and brotherly dealings with one another and with other men, priests are able to learn and appreciate human values and esteem created goods as gifts of God. By living in the world, let priests know how not to be of the world, according to the word of our Lord and Master.(43) By using the world as those who do not use it,(44) let them achieve that freedom whereby they are free from every inordinate concern and become docile to the voice of God in their daily life. From this freedom and docility grows spiritual discretion in which is found the right relationship to the world and earthly goods. Such a right relationship is of great importance to priests, because the mission of the Church is fulfilled in the midst of the world and because created goods are altogether necessary for the personal development of man. Let them be grateful, therefore, for all that the heavenly Father has given them to lead a full life rightly, but let them see all that comes to them in the light of faith, so that they might correctly use goods in response to the will of God and reject those which are harmful to their mission.
For priests who have the Lord as their "portion and heritage," (Nb 18,20) temporal goods should be used only toward ends which are licit according to the doctrine of Christ and the direction of the Church.
Ecclesiastical goods, properly so called, according to their nature and ecclesiastical law, should be administered by priests with the help of capable laymen as far as possible and should always be employed for those purposes in the pursuit of which it is licit for the Church to possess temporal goods-namely, for the carrying out of divine worship, for the procuring of honest sustenance for the clergy, and for the exercise of the works of the holy apostolate or works of charity, especially in behalf of the needy.(45) Those goods which priests and bishops receive for the exercise of their ecclesiastical office should be used for adequate support and the fulfillment of their office and status, excepting those governed by particular laws.(46) That which is in excess they should be willing to set aside for the good of the Church or for works of charity. Thus they are not to seek ecclesiastical office or the benefits of it for the increase of their own family wealth.(47) Therefore, in no way placing their heart in treasures,(48) they should avoid all greediness and carefully abstain from every appearance of business.
Priests, moreover, are invited to embrace voluntary poverty by which they are more manifestly conformed to Christ and become eager in the sacred ministry. For Christ, though he was rich, became poor on account of us, that by his need we might become rich.(49) And by their example the apostles witnessed that a free gift of God is to be freely given,(50) with the knowledge of how to sustain both abundance and need.(51) A certain common use of goods, similar to the common possession of goods in the history of the primitive Church,(52) furnishes an excellent means of pastoral charity. By living this form of life, priests can laudably reduce to practice that spirit of poverty commended by Christ.
Led by the Spirit of the Lord, who anointed the Savior and sent him to evangelize the poor,(53) priests, therefore, and also bishops, should avoid everything which in any way could turn the poor away. Before the other followers of Christ, let priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions. Let them arrange their homes so that they might not appear unapproachable to anyone, lest anyone, even the most humble, fear to visit them.
45. Council of Antioch, canon 25: Mansi 2, 1328; Decree of Gratian, c. 23, C. 12 q. 1. (ed. Friedberg, 1, pp 684-685).
46. This is to be understood especially with regard to the laws and customs prevailing in the Eastern Churches.
47. Council of Paris a, 829, can 15: M.G.H. Sect. III, Concilia, t. 2, para 6 622; Council of Trent, Session XXV, De Reform., chapter 1.
48. Ps 62,11 49. Cf. 2Co 8,9 50. Cf. Ac 8,18-25 51. Cf. Ph 4,12 52. Cf. Ac 2,42-47 53. Cf. Lc 4,18
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