The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, called on priests to be attentive to their people and to avoid becoming “clerics or officials of the State” who forget that the belong to the people of God in order to serve them.
“The faithful people of God, to which we belong, from which we were taken and to which we are sent, have a special sense—the ‘sensus fidei’—for detecting when a pastor of the people has become a cleric of the State, an official,” the cardinal said in a message for the 5th National Encounter of Priests.
“It is different when it comes to priests as sinners: we are all sinners and we remain in the flock. On the other hand, the worldly priest enters into a different process, a process of—allow me to use the word—spiritual corruption that attacks his very nature as a pastor,” he continued.
Referring to CELAM’s final document from the congress in Aparecida in 2007, Cardinal Bergoglio recalled that the identity of the priest “is his belonging to the people of God.” What undermines his identity, he added, is the “temptation of be a Christian without the Church.”
He called on priests to correctly offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation, avoiding the extremes of being either too rigorous or too lax, as neither allows him to be “a witness of the love of mercy that the Lord taught us and asks of us."