In his first pastoral letter during the Holy Year of St. James, Archbishop Juan Jose Asenjo of Seville, Spain urged priests to be examples of holiness and closeness to the Lord, as well as to overcome mediocrity and to teach authentic Catholic doctrine in communion with the Church.
In his extensive letter, the archbishop noted that while the materialism and utilitarianism of today’s world has made it difficult to live the Gospel, the main issue the Church must face is internal.
“Many of the problems we complain about so often are present in us priests,” he said. “If we were holier, more zealous, better examples, more apostolic, mystical and better witnesses, with a strong experience of God, the Christian life would flourish more in our people, who need the close companionship of holy priests,” the archbishop added.
He went on to warn that becoming lukewarm is the “most dangerous situation a Christian can fall into. It is worse for priests because the lukewarm person is unaware of his situation or of the dangers that threaten him. Consequently, he does not feel the need to be converted.” The archbishop then urged priests to rid themselves of any lukewarmness “which renders our ministry fruitless.”
In order to do so, he said, priests should make use of frequent confession, the Eucharist and the Rosary.
Referring to orthodox teachings, the prelate remarked that “We cannot forget about communion with the Church. The Word of God is not ours, just as our doctrine is not ours - they belong to the Church.”
“The People of God have the right to hear the complete Word from the lips of their priests...They also have the right to receive genuine doctrine from us, without reducing it, in close communion with the Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops.”
“It is not right to pick and choose” according to the fads of the day, he continued, nor is it right to twist the teachings of Vatican II to our own liking or to conform to ideologies that are outside the living tradition of the Church. “We do not preach ourselves, but rather the sacrosanct ever-enduring Word of Jesus Christ, of which the Church is depository and interpreter.”