Painfully at this time in the Church we are having to deal with sexual abuse of children by some priests. We need to give priority to the special pastoral care to all those effected by this abuse.
This abuse has changed many peoples attitude towards priests. There are those who say that abuse has been allowed to go unchallenged because of clericalism within the Church. I believe that clericalism has been allowed to happen when we disassociate Holy Orders from Baptism. It is when we forget the connection to the baptised. I must remember that I exist as a priest only to serve the baptised. For me my baptism is more fundamental than my ordination. Holy Orders serves the baptised and when you forget that then you have clericalism. Clericalism happens when we cling to honour, power and prestige as a priest. It happens when there is an obsession with holy orders in itself. We all must never forget that the priesthood is a ministry of service. A priest is here to help people become holy. “When we forget that, we become caved in on ourselves, as St Augustine says.” (Bishop Robert Barron)
In the gospel for this Sunday Jesus says: “Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Pope Francis said, “We must never see our ministry as a source of self-gain; rather our sacred ministry has to be the means of our self-giving”. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston wrote, “In the life of the priest and deacon, there can be no dichotomy between our cultic role and the humble service we must give as in washing the feet of our brothers and sisters. The towel should be as emblematic as the stole for our priests and deacons, where humble service must reflect the humble and loving service of the Good Shepherd.” Please continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood. We need men who are willing to embrace a life of humble service of the baptised.