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43 As a conclusion to this letter we are pleased to apply to the clergy of France what we formerly wrote for the priests of our diocese of Perugia. We reproduce here a portion of the pastoral letter we addressed to them on July 19, 1866:
44 "We ask the ecclesiastics of our diocese to reflect seriously on their sublime obligations and on the difficult circumstances through which we are passing and to act in such wise that their conduct be in harmony with their duties and always conformable to the rules of an enlightened and prudent zeal. For thus even our enemies will seek in vain for motives of reproach and blame: qui ex adverso est vereatur nihil habens malum dicere de nobis (Tt 2,8) .
45 "Although difficulties and dangers are every day multiplying, the pious and fervent priest must not for that be discouraged - he must not abandon his duties or even draw rein in the accomplishment of the spiritual mission he has received for the welfare and salvation of mankind and for the maintenance of that august religion of which he is herald and minister. For it is especially by difficulties and trials that his virtue becomes strong and stable; it is in the greatest misfortunes, in the midst of political transformations and social upheavals that the salutary and civilizing influence of his ministry shines forth with greatest brilliancy.
46 " ... To come down to practice we find a teaching admirably adapted to the circumstances in the four maxims which the great Apostle St. Paul gave to his disciple Titus. In all things give good example by your works, your doctrine, the integrity of your life, by the gravity of your con duct, using none but holy and blameless language (Tt 2,7) . We would that each and every member of our clergy meditate on these maxims and conform his conduct thereto.
47 "In omnibus teipsum praebe exemplum bonorum operum. In all things give an example of good works; that is, of active and exemplary life, animated by a true spirit of charity and guided by the maxims of evangelical prudence - of a life of sacrifice and toil, consecrated to the welfare of your neighbors, not with earthly views or for a perishable reward, but with a supernatural object. Give an example by that language at once simple, noble and lofty, by that sound and blameless discourse which confounds all human opposition, calms the long standing hatred the world has sworn against you, and wins for you the respect and even esteem of the enemies of religion. Every one devoted to the service of the sanctuary has been at all times obliged to show himself a living model and perfect exemplar of all the virtues; but g this obligation becomes all the more instant when, as a consequence of social upheavals, we are treading a difficult and uncertain path where we may at every step discover ambushes and pretexts of attack....
48 "In doctrina. In the face of the combined efforts of incredulity and heresy to consummate the ruin of Catholic faith, it would be a real crime for the clergy to remain in a state of hesitancy and inactivity. In such an outpouring of error and conflict of opinion he must not prove faithless to his mission, which is to defend dogma assaulted, morality travestied and justice frequently outraged. It is for him to oppose himself as a barrier to the attacks of error and the deceits of heresy; to watch the tactics of the wicked who war on the faith and honor of this Catholic country; to unmask their plots and reveal their ambuscades; to warn the confiding, strengthen the timid and open the eyes of the blinded. Superficial erudition or merely common knowledge will not suffice for all this - there is need of study, solid, profound and continuous, in a word of a mass of doctrinal knowledge sufficient to cope with the subtlety and remarkable cunning of our modern opponents....
49 "In integritate. No better proof of the importance of this council could be had than the sad evidence of what is going on around us. Do we not observe that the lax life of some ecclesiastics brings discredit and contempt on their ministry and proves the occasion of scandals? If men, endowed with minds as brilliant as they are remarkable, now and then desert the ranks of the sacred soldiery and rise in revolt against the Church - that mother who, in her tenderness and affection had advanced them to the direction and for the salvation of souls, their defection and wanderings have most frequently had their origin in want of discipline and evilness of life
50 "In gravitate. By gravity is to be understood that serious, judicious, tactful con duct which should be characteristic of every faithful and prudent minister chosen by God for the government of His family. While thanking God for having vouchsafed to raise him to this honor, he must show himself faithful to all his obligations, and at the same time balanced and prudent in all his actions; he must not allow himself to be dominated by base passions, nor carried away by violent and exaggerated language; he must lovingly sympathize with the misfortunes and weaknesses of others; do all the good he can to every one, disinterestedly, unostentatiously, and maintaining ever intact the honor of his character and sublime dignity."
51 We return now to you, beloved sons in the French clergy, and we are firmly convinced that our perceptions and counsels, solely inspired as they are by our paternal affection, will be understood and received by you in this sense and bearing we wished to give them in addressing you this letter.
52 We expect much from you, because God has richly endowed you with all the gifts and qualities necessary for performing great and holy deeds for the advantage of the Church and society. We would that not one among you permit himself to be tarnished by those imperfections which dim the splendor of the sacerdotal character and injure its efficacy.
53 The present times are evil; the future is still more gloomy and menacing, and seems to herald the approach of a redoubtable crisis and social upheaval. It behooves us, then, as we have said on many occasions, to honor the salutary principles of religion, as well as those of justice, charity, respect and duty. It is for us to imbue men's souls with these principles - and especially those souls which have become captive to infidelity or disturbed by destroying passions, to bring about the reign of the grace and peace of our Divine Redeemer, Who is the Light and the Resurrection and the Life, and in Him to unite all men, notwithstanding the inevitable social distinctions which divide them.
54 Yes, now more than ever, is there need of the help and devotedness of exemplary priests, full of faith, discretion and zeal, who, taking inspiration from the gentleness and energy of Jesus Christ, Whose true ambassadors they are, "pro Christo legatione fungimur," (2Co 5,20) to announce with a courageous and inexhaustible patience the eternal truths which are seldom fruitless of virtue in men's souls.
55 Their ministry will be laborious - often times even painful, especially in countries where the people are absorbed in worldly interests and live in forgetfulness of God and His holy religion. But the enlightened, charitable and unwearying influence of the priest fortified by Divine grace will work, as it has already worked, prodigies of resurrection almost beyond belief.
56 With all our soul and with unspeakable joy we hail this consoling vista, and meanwhile with all the affection of our heart we grant the Apostolic Benediction to you, venerable brothers, and to the clergy and people of France.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, on the 8th of September, in the year 1899, the twenty-second of our Pontificate.
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