Skip to main content


Confessors: Be welcoming and faithful to the Magisterium

4/16/2003 - 7:57 AM PST

Advertisment


Pope's Address Urging Confessors to Be Faithful to Magisterium

John Paul II's Words to Apostolic Penitentiary

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 13, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II on March 28 addressed the officials of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the confessors of the patriarchal basilicas of Rome, and a group of young priests and candidates for the priesthood, who were taking part in the annual course on the internal forum organized by the Penitentiary.

Here is a translation from L'Osservatore Romano of the Pope's address, which he gave in Italian.

_____________________________________

1. Dear Friends,

The course on the internal forum, organized every year by the Apostolic Penitentiary, gives me the opportunity to greet you at a special Audience. I extend a cordial welcome to the Major Pro-Penitentiary, Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, and I thank him for his kind words of greeting. I also greet the Prelates and Officials of the Tribunal and the Confessors of the Patriarchal Basilicas of Rome, as well as the young priests and candidates for the priesthood who are taking part in this traditional opportunity for their doctrinal formation.

On many occasions I have expressed my gratitude to all who dedicate themselves to the ministry of penance in the Church: indeed, the Catholic priest is, above all, a minister of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist and a minister of divine forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.

The sacrament as a foundation for an honest priestly spirituality

2.
On this occasion I wish to reflect particularly on the close connection that exists between the priesthood and the sacrament of Reconciliation, which the priest must first of all receive with faith and humility and with a frequency born of conviction. Indeed, with regard to priests, the Second Vatican Council teaches: "The ministers of sacramental grace are intimately united to Christ the Savior and Pastor through the fruitful reception of the sacraments, especially the repeated sacramental act of Penance. If it is prepared for by a daily examination of conscience, it is a powerful incentive to the essential conversion of heart to the love of the Father of mercies" ("Presbyterorum Ordinis," n. 18; CIC, can 276 2,5 and likewise, CCEO, can. 369 1).

In addition to the intrinsic value of the sacrament of Penance when it is received by the priest as penitent, one can mention its ascetical efficacy as an opportunity for self-examination and, consequently, for the pleasant or painful determination, whether the results are pleasing or not, of one's degree of fidelity to his promises. It is also an ineffable moment to "experience" the eternal love with which the Lord cherishes each one of us in his own unique individuality: it is an outlet for disappointment and bitterness, perhaps for something unjustly inflicted on us. It is a comforting balm to alleviate the many forms of suffering that life entails.

Confessors: Be welcoming and faithful to the Magisterium

3.
As the minister of the sacrament of Penance who is conscious of the precious gift of grace placed in his hands, the priest must offer the faithful the charity of warm welcome, without begrudging his time or showing a harsh or cold manner. At the same time, regarding their problems, he must have the charity, indeed, the justice, to convey the genuine teaching of the Church without ideological distortions or arbitrary omissions, avoiding fashionable secular novelties ("profanas vocum novitiates").

I particularly wish to draw your attention to the need for proper adherence to the Magisterium of the Church concerning the complex problems in the bioethical field, and the moral and canonical norms concerning marriage. In my Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2002, I remarked: "It can happen that in the face of complex contemporary ethical problems the faithful leave the confessional with somewhat confused ideas, especially if "they find that confessors are not consistent in their judgments.' The truth is that those who fulfill this delicate ministry in the name of God and of the Church have a specific duty not to promote and, even more so, not to express in the confessional, personal opinions that do not correspond to what the Church teaches and professes. Likewise, "a failure to speak the truth because of a misconceived sense of compassion should not be taken for love'" (Letter to Priests, 17 March 2002, n. 10).

Penance as the principal means of discerning vocations

4.
If the sacrament of Penance is well administered and received, it is the principal means of vocational discernment. The person acting in the internal forum must personally reach a moral certitude about the suitability and integrity of those to whom he gives spiritual direction if he is legitimately to approve and encourage their intention to receive Orders. Besides, one can only attain this moral certitude when the candidate's fidelity to the demands of a vocation has been proved by prolonged experience.

In any case, the spiritual director should offer candidates for the priesthood not only discernment, but also the example of his own life, seeking to reproduce in himself the Heart of Christ.

Mary can obtain for us the grace to love the Sacrament

5.
The just and fruitful ministry of penance and love for the personal use of the sacrament of Penance depends above all on the Lord's grace. To obtain this gift for the priest, the mediation of Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of priests, has unique importance since she is the Mother of Jesus, the Eternal High Priest. May she obtain from her Son the gift of holiness for every priest, through the sacrament of Penance, humbly received and generously offered.

May the Apostolic Blessing which I cordially impart to you, as a pledge of God's blessings, descend upon your convictions, your resolutions and your hopes.

+ John Paul II

Contact

Vatican City
http://www.catholic.org  CA, VA
Pope John Paul II - Holy See, 661 869-1000

Email

colirf@catholic.org

Keywords

Confessors, Magisterium

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
[Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they said to me, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
It was just about this time that some people arrived and told ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 25 Saint of the Day

St. Daria
October 25: There is very little known about them. Chrysanthus was an ... Read More