Pope warns against clerical careerism

The priesthood is a commitment to service for humanity and not an opportunity to further one's career or "to become a personality", Benedict XVI said at the weekend.

Catholic News Service reports that the Pope made the comments shortly before ordaining 15 priests during a liturgy in St Peter's Basilica on Sunday.

The Mass highlighted the annual celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In his sermon, the Pope said the priest as "good shepherd" must be ready to sacrifice himself, know his flock and serve unity.

He prefaced his remarks with a warning about "careerism, the temptation to reach 'the top,' to acquire for oneself a position through the church" and to help oneself instead of helping others.

"This is the image of someone who uses the priesthood to make himself important, to become a personality, the image of one who aims at self-acclaim and not the humble service of Jesus Christ," Pope Benedict said.

Instead, he said, a priest should have an attitude of total self-giving and realise that following a vocational call may be in contrast with one's desire for self-realisation and esteem.

The pope said a pastor's willingness to sacrifice himself for his faithful is not something that happens only in martyrdom, but day by day, in being there for others even at the cost of abandoning his own goals.

To serve his flock, he said, a priest must know them well - which means going to talk to them and being open to their questions and needs.

"The pastor cannot be satisfied with knowing names and dates. His knowledge must always be knowledge with the heart," he said.

In working for unity, the Pope said, the priest needs to look beyond the horizons of his immediate community and be aware that Christianity has a universal mission aimed at all people.

"The mission of Jesus involves all humanity, and therefore the church has a responsibility to help all humanity recognise God - the God who, for all of us, was made man in Jesus Christ, suffered, died and rose from the dead," he said.

The pope said the church can never withdraw into the confines of its own structure; it has a duty to bring the Gospel to all people.

At his midday Angelus talk after the Mass, the Pope prayed for an increase in worldwide vocations.

He said the priest's mission was irreplaceable in the church. Even if some regions currently show a shortage of clergy, he said, the church can be certain that God will continue to call young men to the priesthood.

Pope ordains 15 priests, warns against clerical careerism (Catholic News Service 8/5/06)

Priests must live for christ and for others (Vatican Information Service 8/5/06 - temporary url)
Vocation is renewal of personal friendship with Christ (Vatican Information Service 8/5/06 - temporary url)
Missions: Communicate divine love that leads to salvation (Vatican Information Service 8/5/06 - temporary url)
Pope: Mission "consists definitely in communicating God's love to our brothers" (AsiaNews.it 8/5/06)
Pope appoints 12 new cardinals to Vatican congregations, councils (Catholic News Service 8/5/06)
Pope says missionary societies help Catholics know God's love (Catholic News Service 8/5/06)
Pope commends Swiss Guard who, for 500 years, have given their lives for the Church (Catholic News Agency 8/5/06)
To live as a priest is to live for Christ, others, Pope tells newly ordained (Catholic News Agency 8/5/06)
Despite shortage in some areas, priestly mission is irreplaceable, says Pope Benedict (Catholic News Agency 8/5/06)
Pope puts limits on audiences for political leaders (Catholic World News 8/5/06)
Pope ordains 15 priests, warns against "careerism" (Catholic World News 8/5/06)
Pope on Vocations Day: Christ Still Calls (Zenit 7/5/06)
Priesthood Isn't a Career, Says Pontiff (Zenit 7/5/06)
Pope Thanks Swiss Guards for Service (Zenit 7/5/06)
Benedict XVI's Greatest Strength (Zenit 7/5/06)

9 May 2006