Vatican official warns priests against relativism in ministry

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary of the Congregation for Clergy
Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary of the Congregation for Clergy


The secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, said this week the proclamation of the word of God is an undeniable task that priests must carry out with dignity and wisdom, to show Christ to others. It is a mission that leaves no room for subjective views of the Lord or relativism, he said.

In an article published by L'Osservatore Romano, the archbishop said, "No priest proclaims himself or his own ideas, nor his personal or subjective interpretations of the one and eternal Gospel.”

Carrying out this labor with dignity requires engaging people's hearts, since that is where true knowledge of the Scriptures originates.  This knowledge comes “from daily intimacy with Him, from lectio divina, as part of the great tradition of the fathers, from deep meditation that gradually transforms each priest into a ‘living Gospel,’” the archbishop said.

“We know well,” he continued, “that the ‘Gospel is not only words, Christ himself is the Gospel’ and we are called to be conformed unto Him, through the exercise of the ministry of proclamation as well.”

Wise Preaching

Speaking later about the need for “wise” preaching, Archbishop Piacenza recalled that this “presupposes prudence and the capacity to see reality according to the totality of its factors, without absolutizing any one human point of view, but rather always referring everything to the only absolute who is God.”

“Wise preaching always considers first the real demands of those who receive it, never imposing arbitrary and insufficient interpretations, but rather always preferring the one true thing that is necessary: the real encounter with God of those entrusted to our care,” the archbishop reminded priests.

Wise preaching means “being always aware of the work of God in each proclamation: it is He who prepares the hearts, it is He who encounters men, it is He who brings forth the flowers of conversion and ripens the fruit of charity,” he continued.

“The only ‘relativism’ allowed is that which is directed towards one’s self,” the archbishop noted.  “As preachers, we must always be totally ‘relative’ (related) to God.”

In this way priests will discover the beauty of their ministry and will sense the intimate presence of the Lord, “who loves those who give with joy and never leaves His servant alone,” wrote the Vatican official.

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