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Mahony discusses ‘Year of Priests’

Lauren Jacobi | Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, discussed the importance of the relationship between the Ministerial Priesthood and the Baptismal Priesthood at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies Friday afternoon.

“This ‘Year for Priests’ is more than a focus on the unique role of the ordained priesthood within the Catholic Church; it is a focus on the priesthood that every baptized member is called to, the Baptismal Priesthood,” Mahony said.

In order to understand the role of the Baptismal Priesthood, Mahony said, we first must come to fully understand the role of the Ministerial or Ordained Priesthood.

Mahony said priests must build up the Church by practicing the three-fold mission of witness, worship and service.

“The role of the Ministerial Priesthood is not one of simply presiding over the sacraments, but is also a role of leadership within a community of co-responsibility,” he said.

According to Mahony, the responsibility of the ordained priests is to engage the priesthood within the people and then represent the meaning of priesthood for them. Priests do this best when viewing themselves as a part of the Baptized community, rather than above them due to ordination, he said.

“Priests today must know how to draw all members together in communion and service,” he said. “Thus, creating a strong community of participation and collaboration.”

Mahony said one of the most important parts of a priests’ life is teaching.

“In order to foster participation and collaboration among the baptized faithful, a priest’s primary duty must become one of teacher,” he said.

Mahony said teaching is much more than the delivery of a good homily, however. Teaching involves guiding, leading, enlightening and encouraging the baptized faithful so as to create a community of participation and collaboration.

“The relationship between the Ministerial Priesthood and the Baptismal Priesthood is that the Ministerial Priesthood is at the service of the Baptismal Priesthood and is the means by which Christ builds up and leads His Church,” he said.

For his final point, Mahony drew on the most recent encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, “Teaching Charity in Truth,” arguing how this encyclical reiterates the relationship between the ordained and the baptized.

In “Teaching Charity in Truth,” Pope Benedict XVI said the Church is given moral authority to work out the social problems that the world faces today.

“The Ordained Priesthood must began small. Through the Homily, they must invite their Parishes to be alert of a social order more in line with the Church’s Teachings. Yet, at the same time, they cannot simply tell their parishioners what to do,” Mahony said.