ROME, JUNE 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Purification and prayer are the answer to a wave of opposition to the priesthood, says the archbishop of Quebec.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet affirmed this Thursday when he offered a reflection as part of the closing celebrations of the Year for Priests. The year officially ended today, feast of the Sacred Heart, with a papal Mass at St. Peter’s.
“Today we are witnessing the eruption of an unprecedented wave of rebellion against the Church and the priesthood, in the wake of the revelations of scandals whose gravity we must acknowledge and sincerely make reparation for the consequences,” the cardinal said. “However, beyond the necessary purifications deserved because of our sins, we must see in the present moment an open opposition to our service to truth and the attacks from without as well as from within that seek to divide the Church.”
Given this situation, Cardinal Ouellet proposed that “we pray together for the unity of the Church and for the sanctification of priests, heralds of the good news of salvation.”
The Canadian cardinal noted that “the Catholic Church today has 408,024 priests, spread over every continents. Four hundred thousand priests is a lot and yet little for 1 billion Catholics. Four hundred thousand priests and yet only one Priest, Jesus Christ.”
The cardinal affirmed that through the mediation of priests, Christ the Priest “remains present as on the first day and even more than on the first day, as he promised that we would do even greater things than him. Christ went to meet his brothers and sisters walking toward the cross. We, his ministers, go to meet our brothers and sisters in his name and in his power as the Risen One” and “we are sent to all the paths of the world.”
“The priest who acts in persona Christi Capitis and in representation of the Lord, never acts in the name of an absent one, but in the very person of the Risen Christ, who makes himself present with his truly effective action,” Cardinal Ouellet affirmed, citing Benedict XVI.
The archbishop of Quebec underscored the importance for priests to be aware that they act in the person of Christ.
“Without this consciousness, the nourishment we offer the faithful loses the taste of the mystery and the salt of our priestly life becomes tasteless,” he cautioned. “May our life preserve the taste of the mystery, and to do so may we, in the first place, have a friendship with Christ.”
Prayer and celibacy
Following the reflection by Cardinal Ouellet, which was given in St. Paul’s Outside the Walls and transmitted to St. John Lateran, there was a Mass celebrated by the Pope’s secretary of state.
During the homily, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone stressed that the priest must be, first of all, a man of prayer to live in depth the beauty of celibacy.
“We know well that the prayerful dimension of our ministry and being is fundamental and a priority,” he said. This dimension constitutes “not only a task, but the very ‘spinal column’ of our existence, its soul and breath.”
Celibacy “is a sign and at the same time a stimulus of pastoral charity and a special source of fruitfulness in the world,” Cardinal Bertone added.
In fact, he concluded, celibacy “is valued with great honor by the tradition of the Eastern Churches, which also recognize the possibility of a married priestly ministry.”