15: Priests and Bishops


The Community of faith of which all priests are members has became a counter-cultural reality and today is not only constantly questioned but also often ridiculed. The priesthood is called to develop spirituality and come to grips with their own selves, so that they don't negatively affect their ministry. Then life and ministry, he continues, are indeed intimately related and cannot be separated.

Priests must also deepen their faith on a practical level, in order to live more trustful lives. Cardinal Bernardin emphasizes that priests must avoid the temptation to forget God and put their trust only in themselves, and likewise they must remember that they are important as individuals loved by God and entrusted by the Church with a special ministry.

Of course, they, too, need support and affirmation from one another. Annual retreats and spiritual direction on a continuing basis are both essential for priests' spiritual growth. However, we cannot talk about priests' spirituality without taking into account their sexuality too. As members of the priesthood, they must observe celibacy, but, as human beings, they are not exempted from experiencing all the phases of human growth. They profess a central commitment to the Lord and, therefore are invited and trusted to share many of the deepest moments of others' lives.

Priests have a fundamental role as teachers. Christ has delegated them the responsibility of passing on His message, and their primary duty is to proclaim the Gospel of God to all.

Priests must follow the example of Jesus as a shepherd, and as loving, caring and forgiving men, they must help people handle frustration. In conclusion, Cardinal Bernardin speaks about the role of the Archbishop who is called to perform a role of leadership. They must be men of prayer, faith, mercy, and compassion who proclaim Jesus' Gospel as their primary duty and exercise Episcopal authority with prudence. Bishops must know how to exercise the prudence of a good shepherd, judging times and persons, potentials and limitations, frailties and talents. In conclusion, the Archbishop of Chicago believes in a “participating” style of leadership from the bishops.