Thursday, April 8, 2010

On the authority and dignity of the Priesthood

Pope Benedict XVI, Good Friday

"Let us do all things that we may have the Spirit of God within us. And let us treat with reverence those to whose hands the work of the Spirit has been entrusted. For great is the dignity of the priesthood. For whose sins you shall forgive, He says, they are forgiven; and because of this Paul says: Obey your prelates, and be subject them (Heb. xiii, 7), and hold them in great reverence. For you have but the care of what concerns yourself; and if you look well after that you will not be held accountable for what others do. But the priest, even should he order his own life in a fitting manner, yet does not scrupulously have due care for both your life and the lives of those about him, shall go with the wicked into the everlasting fire; and so he oftentimes while not failing in his own conduct will perish because of yours, if he has not done all that belonged to him to do.

Knowing then the greatness of their danger, treat them with much consideration, for as Paul goes on to say: They watch for your souls; and not simply this, but as having to render an account of them. Because of this you must treat them with honour. And should you join with others to insult them, then neither will your own affairs prosper. For as long as the helmsman is in good heart, those on board are safe. But if he is grieved by their abuse and by their hostile behavior, he can neither keep a good watch, nor perform his task properly, and unwillingly involves them in many disasters. And so likewise the priest. If he is held in honour by you, he will be able to take care of what relates to yourselves. But if you throw them into despondency, weakening their hands, and making them easily overcome, you expose both them and yourselves to the waves, however courageous they may be."

St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor

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