Presbyterorum Ordinis 8: Priests as Brothers

All priests are sent as co-workers in the same apostolate, whether they engage in parochial or extra-parochial ministry. This is true whether they devote their efforts to scientific research or teaching, or whether by manual labor they share in the lot of the workers themselves-if there is need for this and competent authority approves-or finally whether they fulfill some other apostolic tasks or labor designed for the apostolate.

I found this slightly curious: mentioning sharing of the lot of workers by working manually with them. The following sentences develop further the idea of unity.

Older priests, therefore, should receive younger priests as true brothers and help them in their first undertakings and priestly duties. The older ones should likewise endeavor to understand the mentality of younger priests, even though it be different from their own, and follow their projects with good will. By the same token, young priests should respect the age and experience of their seniors; they should seek their advice and willingly cooperate with them in everything that pertains to the care of souls.

Nice. I’ve seen this happen more often than one might expect, given the separation and isolation of some diocesan priests in their ministry.

In a fraternal spirit, priests should extend hospitality, cultivate kindliness and share their goods in common. They should be particularly solicitous for the sick, the afflicted, those overburdened with work, the lonely, those exiled from their homeland, and those who suffer persecution. 

Again, we read the emphasis on charity, and even the lighter side of life:

They should gladly and joyfully gather together for recreation, remembering Christ’s invitation to the weary apostles: “Come aside to a desert place, and rest awhile” (Mk 6:31).

And further, in order that priests may find mutual assistance in the development of their spiritual and intellectual life, that they may be able to cooperate more effectively in their ministry and be saved from the dangers of loneliness which may arise, it is necessary that some kind of common life or some sharing of common life be encouraged among priests. This, however, may take many forms, according to different personal or pastoral needs, such as living together where this is possible, or having a common table, or at least by frequent and periodic meetings.

Look where Vatican II places necessity: on some kind of common life. Are bishops attuned to this? Some years ago Bishop DiNardo of Sioux City arranged for the Fort Dodge clergy of four or five parishes to live together in common as they served their canonical parishes. I heard that arrangement was very beneficial and admired–at least by those with whom I spoke about it.

Finally, by reason of the same communion in the priesthood, priests should realize that they are obliged in a special manner toward those priests who labor under certain difficulties. They should give them timely help, and also, if necessary, admonish them discreetly.

I can’t help but think of that sex predator in Australia who reportedly went to confession hundreds of times for abusing girls and boys.

How do your parish priests keep a common life? My pastor hosts a Wednesday dinner for a handful of area priests. What’s going on in your rectories?

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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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