On August 4, the feast of St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, (a great patron for priests!) the Holy Father offered this Letter to Priests.
I want to say a word to each of you who, often without fanfare and at personal cost, amid weariness, infirmity and sorrow, carry out your mission of service to God and to your people. Despite the hardships of the journey, you are writing the finest pages of the priestly life.
Pope Francis not only acknowledges the many scandals that have impacted the many victims of clergy sexual abuse, but he also strives to encourage those in priestly ministry who serve as faithfully amid such scandals, commending the many who serve with great fortitude. More from the letter:
Without denying or dismissing the harm caused by some of our brothers, it would be unfair not to express our gratitude to all those priests who faithfully and generously spend their lives in the service of others (cf. 2 Cor 12:15). They embody a spiritual fatherhood capable of weeping with those who weep. Countless priests make of their lives a work of mercy in areas or situations that are often hostile, isolated or ignored, even at the risk of their lives. I acknowledge and appreciate your courageous and steadfast example; in these times of turbulence, shame and pain, you demonstrate that you have joyfully put your lives on the line for the sake of the Gospel.
The Holy Father’s letter covers four main themes of pain, gratitude, encouragement, and praise. Again, he writes in the letter:
Dear brother priests, the pain of so many victims, the pain of the people of God and our own personal pain, cannot be for naught. Jesus himself has brought this heavy burden to his cross and he now asks us to be renewed in our mission of drawing near to those who suffer, of drawing near without embarrassment to human misery, and indeed to make all these experiences our own, as eucharist. Our age, marked by old and new wounds, requires us to be builders of relationships and communion, open, trusting and awaiting in hope the newness that the kingdom of God wishes to bring about even today. For it is a kingdom of forgiven sinners called to bear witness to the Lord’s ever-present compassion. “For his mercy endures forever”.
And don’t forget to pray for priests.
Our sister publication, Catholic Digest, offers some very powerful prayers for priests here.
– The Editor
Pope Francis: DorSteffen /Stock photo ID:540220742,