Here is an interesting article, published today in Paolo Rodari’s Diario Apostolico. The Holy Father is speaking about the contrast between clerical careerism and the true spirit of the priesthood.
Careerism, the seeking after power, present in the Church (above all among the clergy), was - more than so many other things - the evil which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger denounced in his meditations on the Way of the Cross in 2005, when, a few weeks before succeeding John Paul II, he said: “How much filth there is in the Church, and indeed even among those who, within the priesthood, should belong completely to Him!”
Read it here: Ratzinger’s meditation at the Ninth Station.
Benedict XVI has returned to this theme on other occasions, for example when he said on 3rd February 2010: “One’s career, the exercise of power: are these not a temptation? A temptation from which even those who have a role of activity and governance in the Church are not immune.”
Read it here: the General Audience.
The Pope had spoken about it in a more forceful manner on 12 September 2009, when he listed the characteristics which must not be lacking in the life of the priest. At a certain point he said: “We do not bind men to us; we do not seek power, prestige, esteem for ourselves. We lead men toward Jesus Christ and thus toward the living God. By this we lead them into truth, and into freedom, which has its origin in truth. Faithfulness is altruism, and precisely because of this it is liberating for the minister himself and for those who are entrusted to him. We know how things in civil society and, not infrequently, also in the Church, suffer from the fact that many of those upon whom a responsibility has been conferred, work for themselves and not for the community, for the common good.”
Read it here: the homily for the Episcopal ordination of five new priests.
Today, once again, during the Mass for the priestly ordination of fourteen new priests, a few hours after the news that Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Archbishop of Naples, an important man in the engine-room of the Wojtyla pontificate, ex-Secretary of the Congregation for Priests, ex-Prefect of Propaganda Fide, has been included in the register of those under scrutiny at Perugia in the public works investigation*, the Pope has reaffirmed the constant idea: “The priesthood can never represent a means of attaining security in life, or of achieving for oneself a position in society. A man who aspires to the priesthood in order to increase his own personal prestige and his own power has radically misunderstood the meaning of this ministry.
“He who wishes above all to fulfil his own ambition, to achieve his own success, will always be a slave to himself and to public opinion. In order to be esteemed, he will have to flatter; he will have to say what pleases people; he will have to adapt himself to the changeability of fashions and opinions, and he will thus deprive himself of the vital relationship with truth, reducing himself to condemning tomorrow what he has praised today. A man who plans out his life like this, a priest who sees his own ministry in these terms, does not truly love God and others, but only himself, and, paradoxically, ends by losing himself. The priesthood – let us always remember – is founded upon the courage to say yes to another Will, in the awareness – which he should nurture so that it grows stronger every day - that in truly conforming ourselves to the Will of God, “immersed” in this Will, not only will our individuality not be rubbed out, but on the contrary, we shall enter ever more deeply into the truth of our being and of our ministry.”
Read the entire homily here.
*An investigation into possible criminality in the letting of public works contracts.