Pope encourages priests, thanks them for their fidelity


Pope Francis released a profoundly moving letter to priests on the 160th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney. His words offer paternal support to priests in a time of unchartered trial. Condemning the egregious crime of abuse, the Pope once again pledges that the Church will do everything to protect the most vulnerable. But he also recognizes that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Priests must not be discouraged during these difficult moments, the Pope counsels, but must recommit themselves to their supernatural vocation. A priest cannot cower in the face of evil; he must combat it with good. If God is always faithful to His promises, a priest must remain faithful to God. The Pope writes to his brother priests: “I thank you for your fidelity to the commitments you have made. It is a sign that, in a society and culture that glorifies the ephemeral, there are still people unafraid to make lifelong promises … In this way, we celebrate the fidelity of God, who continues to trust us, to believe in us and to count on us, for all our sins and failings, and who invites us to be faithful in turn.” Indeed, life-long promises mirror the fidelity of God Himself, whose mercy endures forever. The priesthood is not a career. It cannot be tossed aside cavalierly, like any other task or hobby. Priestly ordination configures a man’s being to the person of Christ Himself. No human power on earth — not even the Pope — can dissolve what God has done. Thanks be to God for the many, many priests who faithfully live out their vocation each and every day. The Pope is right: God counts on them. We can, too.