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Monday, 18 February 2013

Cardinal Piacenza's fine pastoral leadership

The Congregation for the Clergy has for a long time been one of the most pro-active of the dicasteries of the Holy See in providing online resources for those in its care. As a result, the website is not as slick as some of the more recently developed initiatives, but it is well worth surfing round for excellent articles that support priests in their ministry. You can subscribe to the Congregation's emails. I regularly delete subscriptions to various news services that clog up my inbox, but I have always found that the Congregation for the Clergy have a sensible volume of output and that it is worth reading.

The Cardinal Prefect, HE Mauro Piacenza regularly sends letters to priests with instruction and encouragement. In this he offers a fine example of how a curial Cardinal need not be restricted to his office and his paperwork but can reach out to give genuine pastoral leadership. His Letter to Priests for the beginning of Lent is a good example. (There is also a Letter for Seminarians.) I particularly liked the point that the priest is "not just a clerk dealing with spiritual matters" and the focus on the celebration of Mass as central to the priesthood. The Cardinal says:
Some may think it is wrongly reductive to say that what characterizes the priest above all other things is the fact that he celebrates Holy Mass. That is surely not his sole activity but we can certainly say that it is the only one by means of which the mystery of the priest - alter Christus, who at once sacrifices and sacrifices himself, acquires meaning and is accomplished in the highest and most effective way.
We have been through a period when almost every homily about the priest emphasised that he is a minister of the word, and that he is called to service. These things are true but it is good to hear such a clear emphasis on the heart of priestly ministry which is the celebration of Mass.

We cannot predict whom the Cardinals will elect in the forthcoming Conclave but I am consoling myself with the thought that it is at least possible that they might choose Cardinal Piacenza.
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