Presbyterorum Ordinis 7: The Beginning of Relationships

This begins section 2 of chapter 2, “Priests’ Relationships with Others,” starting with a reference to the common bond between priests and bishops by virtue of their shared ordination in Christ.

Therefore, on account of this communion in the same priesthood and ministry, bishops should regard priests as their brothers and friends and be concerned as far as they are able for their material and especially for their spiritual well-being. For above all upon the bishops rests the heavy responsibility for the sanctity of their priests.

More bishops now seem to be aware of this “heavy responsibility.” Thank goodness.

Therefore, they should exercise the greatest care in the continual formation of their priests.

Not just seminaries, but the ongoing formation of clergy. Then, for the benefit of those still convinced democracy has no place in the Church:

They should gladly listen to their priests, indeed consult them and engage in dialogue with them in those matters which concern the necessities of pastoral work and welfare of the diocese. In order to put this into effect, there should be-in a manner suited to today’s conditions and necessities, and with a structure and norms to be determined by law-a body or senate of priests representing all the priests. This representative body by its advice will be able to give the bishop effective assistance in the administration of the diocese.

And as usual, commentary impying we live in an age in which progressive solutions to pastoral problems are often needed:

This union of priests with their bishops is all the more necessary today since in our present age, for various reasons, apostolic undertakings must necessarily not only take on many forms but frequently extend even beyond the boundaries of one parish or diocese. No priest, therefore, can on his own accomplish his mission in a satisfactory way. He can do so only by joining forces with other priests under the direction of the Church authorities.

We’re about one-third of the way through Presbyterorum Ordinis. It’s clear to me that despite its problems, this document has a very optimistic tone: that the modern challenges to the Church can be overcome with prayer, teamwork, and a unitive approach. For lay people, even a seemingly peripheral document reinforces our sense that Vatican II spelled out advances in the spiritual, liturgical, and pastoral aspects of our Catholic faith.

These changes, a diocesan senate of priests for example, are deemed not just good ideas, but “necessities,” in light of the situation of the Church and the world.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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