Bishop Kay Schmalhausen of Ayaviri in southern Peru said this week that the Church needs priests who are willingly obedient and have an intense spiritual life.
During the Chrism Mass of Holy Week, the bishop reminded priests that their lives “should be oriented toward replicating the supreme model who is Jesus Christ. A priest does not live for himself, nor has he been consecrated to do his own will.”
Bishop Schmalhausen said obedience is a primary characteristic of the priestly life and that only by embracing it “will we be will authentically free, our ministry fruitful for the Kingdom and our priestly life happy and truly complete.”
He warned that “it is not surprising that today’s world, subjected to secularism and to what has been called a civilization under threat is not only incapable of assuming this loving and sacrificial logic of obedience, but also frankly rebels against it and sees obedience as a synonym for oppression.”
He lamented the influence of this “worldly and fallacious perspective” on the life of Church, which can easily be seen in the spirit of dissent from the magisterium, in the formation of groups intended to pressure and corner the bishops, in the action of organizations that do not submit to their bishops, in the search for “weak consensuses” that leave a mark of mediocrity on ecclesial life, and in the promotion of ideologies that are completely foreign to the gospel and the sense of the Church.
All of this leads to the confusion and scandal of the faithful, he said, adding that such manifestations show a “completely immature assimilation of the spirit of Christ” and confirm the presence of “the Evil one.”
Authentic obedience, he told priests, which frees the person from attachments, selfishness, pride and anger, springs forth from a heart “purified through an encounter with Jesus.”
Priests need an intense spiritual life for their own well-being and for the success of their ministry and their testimony, he noted. A lack of a spiritual life “has grave consequences; we see this too many times. Only this ensures there will be a faithful and generous love in the priest, an undivided heart, a total surrender to the Church.”
For this reason,” celibacy, we know well, is a great gift to the Church. It enables the priest to be free to serve all. It opens his heart to the needs of all the faithful. It enables us to give of ourselves without counting the cost,” he stressed.
“The Church cannot permit her priestly sons to live a double life which causes grave harm to the ecclesial body and at the same time discredits her ministers (…) Therefore, beloved brothers, may we be recognized as priests for our morals and may we let that be seen by all,” the bishop added.