On priestly conduct

On priestly conduct

AM happy to know that the committee on the ongoing formation of the Archdiocese of Cebu is organizing a conference on priestly conduct as part of the celebration of 2018 as the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons. I believe it is part of an effort to establish some code of ethics for priests.

This is a very important aspect of priestly life and ministry. Let us hope that a lot of good can be drawn from this event which will gather priests not only from Cebu but also from the neighboring provinces of Bohol, Leyte and Negros Occidental. Let us pray that we can see a tangible transformation in the lives of priests after this conference.

Some preliminary or working paper has been circulated around to prepare the participants. In it a lot of ideas and suggestions are already made, making an extensive coverage of relevant issues, and all a result of individual and collective experiences, study and consultation.

I find all these proposed ideas wonderful and we just have to pray that these points get really internalized and assimilated organically in the lives of priests. They should not just be rules to be followed, but rather a natural expression of how priests ought to behave, given their dignity.

We cannot deny that priests play a very crucial role in the Church, let alone, in the world. As sacramentally configured to Christ, head of the Church, they carry out the functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing the People of God in a leading and directing way.

If I may, my two-cents’ worth of ideas and suggestions to the working paper would be the following:

We have to highlight the priority of a healthy spiritual life before we talk about how priestly conduct should be. And this means that priests should always be aware of who they are and what they are supposed to do.

This also means that they have to wage a daily spiritual struggle because this will insure that their spiritual life is vibrant and healthy. Let’s remember that there will always be challenges to face, issues to resolve, enemies to contend with, etc., and we just

have to wage a constant battle to be consistent to our identity and dedication to our ministry.

Priests have to realize that priesthood gives them a permanent character in their life, such that their priesthood is not something that they can put on and take off in certain moments. They are priests all the time, and should be priests through and through, and not just priestly bureaucrats, actors, performers and businessmen.

In this regard, I would give due importance also to the wearing of priestly attire all the time, except in those moments where prudence and common sense would dictate otherwise. This may not be the most important part of priestly dignity, but it somehow properly packages everything that a priest is. Sad to say, this priestly attire is not very much appreciated by many priests.

We need to remember that the priests should be immediately identifiable wherever they are. I am sure that people would be happy to see a priest in their midst. And the priestly attire would also help the priests themselves to be more consistent with their true identity and mission even while roaming around. It helps as a kind of protection against their weaknesses and the many temptations around.

And given the conditions in the Church and the world today, priests should keep abreast with the rapid developments taking place, and know how to act with decorum at all times. Priests should be wary of being dragged to places where they should not be or to ways and lifestyles that are not proper to priestly dignity.

Priests should only talk about God, about spiritual and supernatural realities, about the redemption of man. They should be able to relate everything in this life to these ends, and to avoid getting entangled while evangelizing the worldly and temporal affairs.