Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, Spain called priests to make frequent confessions in order to end “the crisis in priestly ministry.”
The cardinal made his remarks in Valencia during an April 1 conference.
He noted that both Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II made enormous efforts to end “the crisis in priestly ministry.”
To accomplish this, he explained, priests must “truly” believe in God and “understand the priesthood.” They should “love Christ and God in a dynamic way,” because “in order to love one’s neighbor, he must first love God.”
Cardinal Rouco urged priests “to live in a state of grace,” emphasizing that frequent confession is “essential.” The “exercise of obedience,” which he described as “living the cross,” is also necessary even if it leads to “suffering.”
The cardinal said the crisis “is beginning to subside” after it reached a crescendo between 1965 and 1985.
He noted that during this period, many abandoned the priesthood and religious life. Priestly celibacy was often questioned and “alternative forms of living the priestly ministry” emerged in opposition to the traditional priestly role, the cardinal said.
Some “tried to reconcile the work of the Church with other civil activities” at the public and private levels. “Thus secularization advanced” while “the sense of the priesthood” began to slip away, he stated.
However, “a proposal of spiritual renewal in the lives of priests” emerged from the Second Vatican Council,” the cardinal said. This renewal has been carried forward by John Paul II and his successor, Benedict XVI, he added.