Thursday, 03 May 2012 08:55
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Ten years after a historic papal response to clerical sex abuse, the Vatican urged priests to strive for greater holiness in their own lives so that they might effectively minister to others and reverse the tide of atheism.
In its annual letter to priests for 2012, the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy focused on Blessed John Paul II’s 2002 Holy Thursday letter to clergy, in which the late pope responded to the growing revelations and scandal of sexual abuse of minors by priests.
The congregation’s letter also gave priests a guideline for examining their consciences concerning everything from how they celebrate Mass to how well they are living a pure, humble and generous life detached from consumerism.
Signed by the congregation’s prefect, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, and secretary, Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, the letter was dated March 26 and recently published on the congregation’s website.
The letter marks the annual World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, celebrated in many dioceses June 15 — the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Priests are entrusted with the task of challenging and helping people become more holy and obey God’s will more fully, it said.
“We cannot be sanctified without working on the holiness of our brothers, and we cannot work on the holiness of our brothers unless we have first worked on and continue to work on our own holiness,” it said.
Urging others to strive for the “ideal of perfection,” it said, “does not mean that we are not aware of our personal shortcomings, or of the faults committed by some who have brought shame upon the priesthood before the world.”
While not specifically mentioning clerical sex abuse, the letter said that given the worsening situation reported in the news, priests must take to heart “with greater strength and urgency” Blessed John Paul’s Holy Thursday letter from a decade ago.