On the Art of Being a Priest Today

Archbishop Addresses Meeting on Clergy and Catechesis

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ROME, MAY 7, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A priest won’t be able to provide good service if he remains outside the social and cultural life of his own society, says a Church leader.

Archbishop Josip Bozanic of Zagreb, Croatia, made that point when addressing the 80 participants in the meeting on “Priests and Catechesis in Europe.”

“A priest does not render good service — even if he is very generous, very devout, and genuinely dedicated to the Church — if he remains outside of the social and cultural life of the society in which he lives,” he said.

Organized by the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE in collaboration with the National Catechetical Office of the Italian episcopal conference, the event has gathered bishops and national directors of catechesis of 30 European countries, SIR agency reported. The event ends Thursday.

In his address, Archbishop Bozanic, who is also vice president of CCEE, stressed that today a priest “must also be a man of his time, fully knowledgeable in history and in his community, open to the real problems of the times, and with a genuine cultural, social and political sensibility.”

Priests must be “convincing and representative, at the human and believing level,” and they must show that they have “emotional balance, a critical sense, inner unity, the capacity for relations and dialogue, a constructive spirit, and willingness to work in a team,” the archbishop emphasized.

In fact, it is an “art” to be a priest at the service of the Church and of the community, where the priest must know how to “promote profound relations, develop a leading role for the parish, and allow each person to feel appreciated,” he said.

From this derives the need to “overcome two opposite risks,” which threaten the figure of the priest: “that of authoritarian conduct — and even more often — excessive permissiveness — perhaps more current today,” the Croatian prelate said.

CCEE includes the presidents of the 34 European episcopal conferences. Its president is Bishop Amédée Grab of Chur, Switzerland.

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