Presbyterorum Ordinis 17: Priests and Poverty

Presbyterorum Ordinis 17 tackles poverty. In sum, it encourages clergy to practice voluntary poverty. Some highlights:

By living in the world, let priests know how not to be of the world, according to the word of our Lord and Master.

By using the world as those who do not use it, let them achieve that freedom whereby they are free from every inordinate concern and become docile to the voice of God in their daily life.

(L)et them see all that comes to them in the light of faith, so that they might correctly use goods in response to the will of God and reject those which are harmful to their mission.

Ecclesiastical goods … should be administered by priests with the help of capable (laypeople) as far as possible … and should always be employed … for the carrying out of divine worship, for the procuring of honest sustenance for the clergy, and for the exercise of the works of the holy apostolate or works of charity, especially in behalf of the needy.

Those goods which priests and bishops receive for the exercise of their ecclesiastical office should be used for adequate support and the fulfillment of their office and status …

That which is in excess they should be willing to set aside for the good of the Church or for works of charity.

Therefore, in no way placing their heart in treasures, they should avoid all greediness and carefully abstain from every appearance of business.

Note the mention for the assistance of the laity in handling church finances, dependent not on whim, but on the capable abilities of laypeople.

Priests, moreover, are invited to embrace voluntary poverty by which they are more manifestly conformed to Christ and become eager in the sacred ministry.

Why? Because of the example of Christ, the same example used for celibacy, and the attitude of service and charity.

Led by the Spirit of the Lord, who anointed the Savior and sent him to evangelize the poor,(53) priests, therefore, and also bishops, should avoid everything which in any way could turn the poor away.

Before the other followers of Christ, let priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions.

Let them arrange their homes so that they might not appear unapproachable to anyone, lest anyone, even the most humble, fear to visit them.

I cannot help but think of the new Belleville bishop who alienated clergy to the point where they sought to block his installation. The issue? The visible one was asking for a few hundred thousand dollars to renovate his living quarters. Property squabbles aside, what a bad way to begin a relationship with a bishop. It seems one might wait a few years before insisting on new living quarters.

On the whole, I find it interesting that poverty would merit “equal” treatment–it’s own section–as celibacy.



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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