86 – When I have a clericalist in front of me I suddenly become anticlerical. Clericalism shouldn’t have any part in Christianity

By instituting ordained ministers in his Church, Our Lord Jesus Christ inaugurated “the most elevated dignity among all of the hierarchies of the earth”, a new category of men called to actuate in persona Christi, in order to dispense the treasures of the redemption to sinful humanity, as authentic mediators between heaven and earth. These men chosen by Christ himself are participants of the authority with which He forms, sanctifies and rules his Mystical Body, and their dignity is even greater than the angels.

The Christian faithful have always had a profound admiration toward the priest, due to the simple fact of him being who he is, and for presenting to God their intentions and obtaining the necessary assistance from Him. No one fails to see that a priest, like any other human being, also has his defects; but this religious respect cannot be lacking in any well intentioned Christian.

The terms “clericalism” and “anticlericalism” used by Pope Francis to manifest his estimation of the priestly rank are not recent. They were regularly employed by the members of diverse movements that were, in their majority, convinced enemies of religion. Here we are using them in the most authentic way possible, without the blemishes that were later added by the old political conservative or liberals; the latter always disposed to deride the priestly class and publically take position against it. It is even more important to understand the priesthood in conformity with the teachings of the Holy Mother Church, who cannot approve of theories minimizing the grandeur of the ordained ministry, one of the greatest glories of Catholicism and a true honor for humankind.

Regarding Pope Francis’ intentions in declaring himself anticlerical and labeling Saint Paul in the same way — imagine the latter’s surprise in hearing about this in heaven! — It’s difficult to correctly describe, and moreover, interpret his words as being amiably clerical. What is certain is that it’s a little optimistic to think that those who had heard them could perceive a benevolent meaning in them. And if there was such an insinuation, we would appreciate more clarity.

To assist our readers, we offer a study that might shed some light on the concerns that these declarations provoke among people of sincere faith: the most authorized Catholic doctrine which we may believe without fear or doubts, allowing us to reaffirm our clericalism, as faithful followers of Christ, the true High Priest.

Francis

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[Scalfari] It’s true, I am not anticlerical, although I become so when I meet a clericalist.
He smiled and said to me:
[Francis] “It also happens to me. When I have a clericalist in front of me I suddenly become anticlerical. Clericalism shouldn’t have any part in Christianity. St. Paul, who was the first to preach to the Gentiles, pagans and believers in other religions was the first to teach us this”. (Interview with Eugenio Scalfari, October 1, 2013)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of contents

I – Being clerical is simply recognizing two categories within the Church: the pastors and the flock
II –
Men who act in persona Christi capitis
III –
What does a Catholic owe to the priest?
IV –
The faithful should honor the priests due to their great dignity
V –
The aim of anticlericalism is to destroy the Church


I – Being clerical is simply recognizing two categories within the Church: the pastors and the flock


Vatican Council I
– In the Church, some members are subordinate to others
– Condemnation of those who affirm that the Church is a society of equals

Pius X
– A society comprising two categories: the Pastors and the flock

John Paul II
-The ministry of shepherding God’s flock
– Priests alone have been marked with the indelible sign conforming them to Christ the Priest

Vatican Council II
– The Lord established ministers in the society of the faithful to offer sacrifice, forgive sins and perform their priestly office


II – Men who act in persona Christi capitis


Pius X
– The priestly ministry is exercised not in our own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ

Pius XII
– The priest lends his tongue, and gives his hand to Christ

Pius XI
-He is an instrument in the hands of the Divine Redeemer

Pius XII
– The divine Redeemer willed that the priestly life, begun with the supplication and sacrifice of His mortal body, should continue in His Mystical Body

Vatican Council II
– The office of priests shares the authority by which Christ builds up, sanctifies and rules his Body

John Paul II
-The priest shares in the prophetic authority of Christ and the Church

Benedict XVI
– The priest does something which no human being can do of his own power
– God makes use of us poor men in order to be present to all men and women
– The priest never acts in the name of someone who is absent, but in the very Person of the Risen Christ

Pius XII
– The priest is like ‘another Christ’ – he is marked with an indelible character making him a like living image of our Savior

Pius X
-The cleric is one who has the Lord as his portion


III – What does a Catholic owe to the priest?


Pius XI
– From the cradle to the grave the priest is ever beside the faithful

Pius X
– The Lord God has placed in the priests hands all his treasures, his sacraments, his graces – even to open and close heaven to others
– Priests must deliver souls from the bondage of sin – envoys of Christ to win the minds of men

Benedict XVI
-The priest brings God himself to the world

Pius XII
– Priests are the apostles of light, grace and pardon

Pius XI
– Priests – unwearied heralds of the good tidings

John Paul II
– Minister who leads believers to an increasing knowledge of the mystery of God

Benedict XVI
– The priest is removed from worldly bonds and given over to God
– The priest: a bridge that connects human beings to God

Pius XII
– Priests represent Jesus Christ before their people and are representatives of their people before God

Pius XI
– Public and official intercessor of humanity before God

Saint Alphonsus Liguori
– Public ambassador of the whole Church
– Dispensers of divine graces, vigilant guardians to whom the Lord has confided the keys of the kingdom of heaven


IV – The faithful should honor the priests due to their great dignity


Saint Catherine of Siena
– The reverence for priests should never diminish – due to the authority which Jesus gave them
-“They are My anointed ones, and I call them My Christs”

Catechism of Trent
– Empowered in God’s name to teach mankind the divine law and the rules of conduct

Vatican Council II
– The Christian faithful should have filial love for the priests

Saint John Chrysostom
– The priestly office is discharged on earth, but it ranks amongst heavenly ordinances
– Adorned with a most excellent principality

Saint Alphonsus Liguori
-The priesthood is the most sublime of all created dignities – he is inferior only to God

Pius XI
– These august powers are stable and perpetual
– A dignity so lofty that its splendor is cannot be dimmed even by unworthiness

Catechism of Saint Pius X
– Two-fold power: His real Body, and over His mystical body

Pius XI
– Power over the very Body of Jesus Christ

Pius XII
– The organs whereby this Mystical Body develops

John Paul II
– Priests are at the very heart of the Church’s existence and her mission in history

Benedict XVI
– Irreplaceable mission


V – The aim of anticlericalism is to destroy the Church


Pius XI
– The enemies of the Church direct their first and fiercest blow against the priesthood

Leo XIII
– The authentic declaration of Masonic writers is to lay Clericalism waste in its foundations

John XXIII
– Those who want to overthrow religion always try in their hatred to strike at priests first of all


I – Being clerical is simply recognizing two categories within the Church: the pastors and the flock


Vatican Council I

  • In the Church, some members are subordinate to others

The Church of Christ is not a community of equals, as if in which all the faithful have the same rights, but it is truly a society of inequals; and this is not only because among the faithful some are clerics and others are lay, but because, above all, in the Church there is the divinely instituted power, by which it pertains to some to sanctify, teach and govern, while others are without it. (Vatican Council I. First draft of the Constitution De Ecclesia Christi, Ch. X: De Ecclesiae Potestate – Mansi vol. 51)

  • Condemnation of those who affirm that the Church is a society of equals

If anyone says that the Church was established as a society of equals […] Anathema sit. (Vatican Council I. First draft of the Constitution De Ecclesia Christi, Canon XI – Mansi vol. 51)

Pius X

  • A society comprising two categories: the Pastors and the flock

The Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of persons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful. So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors. (Pius X. Encyclical Vehementer Nos, February 11, 1906)

John Paul II

  • The ministry of shepherding God’s flock

He, ‘the great shepherd of the sheep’ (Heb. 13:20), entrusted to the apostles and their successors the ministry of shepherding God’s flock. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, no. 1, March 25, 1992)

Pius XII

  • The fact that the faithful participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice does not mean that they are also endowed with priestly power

It is, therefore, desirable, Venerable Brethren, that all the faithful should be aware that to participate int he eucharistic sacrifice is their chief duty and supreme dignity, and that not in an inert and negligent fashion, giving way to distraction and day-dreaming, but with such earnestness and concentration that they may be united as closely as possible with the High Priest […] The fact, however, that the faithful participate in the eucharistic sacrifice does not mean that they also are endowed with priestly power. (Pius XII. Encyclical Mediator Dei, nos. 82.104, November 20, 1947)

  • Priests alone have been marked with the indelible sign conforming them to Christ the Priest

The sacrament of holy orders sets the priest apart from the rest of the faithful who have not received this consecration. For they alone, in answer to an inward supernatural call, have entered the august ministry, where they are assigned to service in the sanctuary and become, as it were, the instruments God uses to communicate supernatural life from on high to the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Add to this, as We have noted above, the fact that they alone have been marked with the indelible sign ‘conforming’ them to Christ the Priest, and that their hands alone have been consecrated ‘in order that whatever they bless may be blessed, whatever they consecrate may become sacred and holy, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Pius XII. Encyclical Mediator Dei, no. 43, November 20, 1947)

Vatican Council II

  • The Lord established ministers to offer sacrifice, forgive sins and perform their priestly office

The same Lord, however, has established ministers among his faithful to unite them together in one body in which, ‘not all the members have the same function’ (Rom 12:4). These ministers in the society of the faithful are able by the sacred power of orders to offer sacrifice and to forgive sins, and they perform their priestly office publicly for men in the name of Christ. (Vatican Council II. Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 2, December 7, 1965)


II – Men that act in persona Christi capitis


Pius X

  • The priestly ministry is exercised not in our own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ

These truths are all the more evident inasmuch as we exercise the priestly ministry not in our own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ. The Apostle said: Let man so consider us as the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1); for Christ, therefore, we are ambassadors (1 Cor 5:20). This is the reason that Christ has numbered us not among his servants but as his friends. (Pius X. Exhortation Haerent animo, no. 4, August 4, 1908)

Pius XII

  • The priest lends his tongue, and gives his hand to Christ

Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is made like to the High Priest and possesses the power of performing actions in virtue of Christ’s very person. Wherefore in his priestly activity he in a certain manner ‘lends his tongue, and gives his hand’ to Christ ( Saint John Chrysostom, In Joann. Hom., 86:4.) (Pius XII. Encyclical Mediator Dei, no. 69, November 20, 1947)

Pius XI

  • He is an instrument in the hands of the Divine Redeemer

The priest is the minister of Christ, an instrument, that is to say, in the hands of the Divine Redeemer. He continues the work of the redemption in all its world-embracing universality and divine efficacy, that work that wrought so marvelous a transformation in the world. Thus the priest, as is said with good reason, is indeed ‘another Christ’; for, in some way, he is himself a continuation of Christ. ‘As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you’. (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad Catholice sacerdotii, no.12, December 20, 1935)

Pius XII

  • The divine Redeemer willed that the priestly life, begun with the supplication and sacrifice of His mortal body, should continue in His Mystical Body

But what is more, the divine Redeemer has so willed it that the priestly life begun with the supplication and sacrifice of His mortal body should continue without intermission down the ages in His Mystical Body which is the Church. That is why He established a visible priesthood to offer everywhere the clean oblation which would enable men from East to West, freed from the shackles of sin, to offer God that unconstrained and voluntary homage which their conscience dictates. (Pius XII. Encyclical Mediator Dei, no. 2, November 20, 1947)

Vatican Council II

  • The office of priests shares the authority by which Christ builds up, sanctifies and rules his Body

The office of priests, since it is connected with the episcopal order, also, in its own degree, shares the authority by which Christ builds up, sanctifies and rules his Body. Wherefore the priesthood, while indeed it presupposes the sacraments of Christian initiation, is conferred by that special sacrament; through it priests, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ the Priest in such a way that they can act in the person of Christ the Head. (Vatican Council II. Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 2, December 7, 1965)

John Paul II

  • The priest shares in the prophetic authority of Christ and the Church

The priest […] proclaims the word in his capacity as ‘minister,’ as a sharer in the prophetic authority of Christ and the Church. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, no. 26, March 25, 1992)

Benedict XVI

  • The priest does something which no human being can do of his own power

The priest is not a mere office-holder, like those which every society needs in order to carry out certain functions. Instead, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ’s name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life. Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ’s words of thanksgiving, which are words of transubstantiation – words which make Christ himself present, the Risen One, his Body and Blood – words which thus transform the elements of the world, which open the world to God and unite it to him. (Benedict XVI. Homily for the Conclusion of the Year for Priests, June 11, 2010)

  • God makes use of us poor men in order to be present to all men and women

The priesthood, then, is not simply “office” but sacrament: God makes use of us poor men in order to be, through us, present to all men and women, and to act on their behalf. This audacity of God who entrusts himself to human beings – who, conscious of our weaknesses, nonetheless considers men capable of acting and being present in his stead – this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word “priesthood”. (Benedict XVI. Homily for the Conclusion of the Year for Priests, June 11, 2010)

  • The priest never acts in the name of someone who is absent, but in the very Person of the Risen Christ

The priest represents Christ. What is implied by ‘representing’ someone? In ordinary language it usually means being delegated by someone to be present in his place, to speak and act in his stead because the person he represents is absent from the practical action. Let us ask ourselves: does the priest represent the Lord in this way? The answer is no, because in the Church Christ is never absent, the Church is his living Body and he is the Head of the Church, present and active within her. Christ is never absent, on the contrary he is present in a way that is untrammelled by space and time through the event of the Resurrection that we contemplate in a special way in this Easter Season. Therefore the priest, who acts in persona Christi Capitis and representing the Lord, never acts in the name of someone who is absent but, rather, in the very Person of the Risen Christ, who makes himself present with his truly effective action. (Benedict XVI. General Audience, April 14, 2010)

Pius XII

  • The priest is like ‘another Christ’ – he is marked with an indelible character making him like a living image of our Saviour

The priesthood is a great gift of the Divine Redeemer, Who, in order to perpetuate the work of redemption of the human race which He completed on the Cross, confided His powers to the Church which He wished to be a participator in His unique and everlasting Priesthood. The priest is like ‘another Christ’ because he is marked with an indelible character making him, as it were, a living image of our Saviour. (Pius XII. Apostolic Exhortation Menti nostrae, no. 7, September 23, 1950)

Pius X

  • The cleric is one who has the Lord as his portion

St. Jerome tells us that with these words ‘the cleric is reminded that one who is the portion of the Lord, or who has the Lord as his portion, must show himself to be such a one as possesses the Lord and is possessed by him’ (Ep. LII, ad Nepotianum, n. 5). (Pius X. Apostolic Exhortation Haerent animo, no. 1, August 4, 1908)


III – What does a Catholic owe to the priest?


Pius XI

  • From the cradle to the grave the priest is ever beside the faithful

And thus the ineffable greatness of the human priest stands forth in all its splendor; for he has power over the very Body of Jesus Christ, and makes It present upon our altars. In the name of Christ Himself he offers It a victim infinitely pleasing to the Divine Majesty. ‘Wondrous things are these,’ justly exclaims St. John Chrysostom, ‘so wonderful, they surpass wonder.’ Besides this power over the real Body of Christ, the priest has received other powers, august and sublime, over His Mystical Body of Christ, a doctrine so dear to St. Paul; […] from the cradle to the grave the priest is ever beside the faithful, a guide, a solace, a minister of salvation and dispenser of grace and blessing. (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad Catholici sacerdotii, no. 16, December 20, 1935)

Pius X

  • The Lord God has placed in the priest’s hands all his treasures, his sacraments, his graces – even to open and close heaven to others

Saint Charles Borromeo gave apt expression to this thought when, in his discourses to the clergy, he declared: ‘If we would only bear in mind, dearly beloved brethren, the exalted character of the things that the Lord God has placed in our hands, what unbounded influence would not this have in impelling us to lead lives worthy of ecclesiastics! Has not the Lord placed everything in my hand, when he put there his only-begotten Son, coeternal and coequal with himself? In my hand he has placed all his treasures, his sacraments, his graces; he has placed there souls, than whom nothing can be dearer to him; in his love he has preferred them to himself, and redeemed them by his Blood; he has placed heaven in my hand, and it is in my power to open and close it to others… (Pius X. Apostolic Exhortation Haerent animo, no. 1, August 4, 1908)

  • Priests must deliver souls from the bondage of sin – envoys of Christ to win the minds of men

As his envoys, we must win the minds of men for his doctrine and his law by first observing them ourselves; sharing as we do in his power to deliver souls from the bondage of sin, we must strive by every means to avoid becoming entangled in these toils of sin. (Pius X. Apostolic Exhortation Haerent animo, no. 6, August 4, 1908)

Benedict XVI

  • The priest brings God himself to the world

Nne proclaims himself in the first person, but within and through his own humanity every priest must be well aware that he is bringing to the world Another, God himself. (Benedict XVI. Address to the members of the Congregation for the Clergy on the occasion of their Plenary Assembly, March 16, 2009)

Pius XII

  • Priests are the apostles of light, grace and pardon

Priests are ‘the stewards of the mysteries of God’ (1 Cor 4:1); therefore they must serve Jesus Christ with perfect charity and consecrate all their strength to the salvation of their brethren. They are the apostles of light; therefore they must illuminate the world with the teachings of the Gospel and be so strong in the Christian faith as to be able to communicate it to others, and follow the example and doctrine of the Divine Master in order to lead everyone to Him. They are the apostles of grace and pardon: therefore they must consecrate themselves entirely to the salvation of men and draw them to the altar of God in order that they may nourish themselves with the bread of eternal life. (Pius XII. Apostolic Exhortation Menti nostrae, no. 56, September 23, 1950)

Pius XI

  • Priests – unwearied heralds of the good tidings

That it has not fallen still lower down the slope of error and vice is due to the guidance of the light of Christian truth that always shines in the world. Now the Church exercises her ‘ministry of the word’ through her priests of every grade of the Hierarchy, in which each has his wisely allotted place. These she sends everywhere as unwearied heralds of the good tidings which alone can save and advance true civilization and culture, or help them to rise again. (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad Catholici sacerdotii, no. 24, December 20, 1935)

John Paul II

  • Minister who leads believers to an increasing knowledge of the mystery of God

The priest is first of all a minister of the word of God. He is consecrated and sent forth to proclaim the good news of the kingdom to all, calling every person to the obedience of faith and leading believers to an ever increasing knowledge of and communion in the mystery of God, as revealed and communicated to us in Christ. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, no. 26, March 25, 1992)

Benedict XVI

  • The priest is removed from worldly bonds and given over to God

The giving over of a person to God, his “sanctification”, is identified with priestly ordination, and this also defines the essence of the priesthood: it is a transfer of ownership, a being taken out of the world and given to God. […] But for this very reason it is not a segregation. Rather, being given over to God means being charged to represent others. The priest is removed from worldly bonds and given over to God, and precisely in this way, starting with God, he must be available for others, for everyone. When Jesus says: “I consecrate myself”, he makes himself both priest and victim. (Benedict XVI. Homily of the Chrism Mass, April 9, 2009)

  • The priest: a bridge that connects human beings to God

The priest needs divine authorization, institution, and only by belonging to both spheres the divine and the human can he be a mediator, can he be a ‘bridge’. This is the priest’s mission: to combine, to link these two realities that appear to be so separate, that is, the world of God far from us, often unknown to the human being and our human world. The priest’s mission is to be a mediator, a bridge that connects, and thereby to bring human beings to God, to his redemption, to his true light, to his true life. (Benedict XVI. Lectio Divina at the encounter with the Parish Priests of the diocese of Rome, February 18, 2010)

Pius XII

  • Priests represent Jesus Christ before their people, and are representatives of their people before God

Only to the apostles, and thenceforth to those on whom their successors have imposed hands, is granted the power of the priesthood, in virtue of which they represent the person of Jesus Christ before their people, acting at the same time as representatives of their people before God. (Pius XII. Encyclical Mediator Dei, no. 40, November 20, 1947)

Pius XI

  • Public and official intercessor of humanity before God

The priest, is public and official intercessor of humanity before God; he has the duty and commission of offering to God in the name of the Church, over and above sacrifice strictly so-called, the ‘sacrifice of praise,’ in public and official prayer […] Who can tell how many chastisements priestly prayer wards off from sinful mankind, how many blessings it brings down and secures? (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad Catholici sacerdotii, no. 28, Decemeber 20, 1935)

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

  • Public ambassador of the whole Church

A priest is a minister destined by God to be a public ambassador of the whole Church, to honor him, and to obtain his graces for all the faithful. The entire Church cannot give to God as much honor, nor obtain so many graces, as a single priest by celebrating a single Mass. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Dignity and Duties of a priest – ch. I, no.2 – pg. 24-25)

  • Dispensers of divine graces, vigilant guardians to whom the Lord has confided the keys of the kingdom of heaven

‘Consider the priests,’ says St. Ignatius Martyr, ‘as the dispensers of divine graces and the associates of God.’ ‘They are,’ says St. Prosper, ‘the glory and the immovable columns of the Church; that are the doors of the eternal city; through them all reach Christ; they are the vigilant guardians to whom the Lord has confided the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Dignity and Duties of a priest, ch. I, no.3 – pg. 28)


IV – The faithful should honor the priests due to their great dignity


Saint Catherine of Siena

  • The reverence for priests should never diminish – due to the authority which Jesus gave them

Have told you all this, dearest daughter, that you may the better recognize the dignity to which I have called My ministers, wherefore this reverence should never diminish in the case of priests whose virtue grows weak […] and you ought to love and reverence the authority which I have given them. […] This, then, is your duty according to the demands of charity, and thus I wish you to act with regard to such badly ordered priests, […] who bring you great Treasures – that is to say, the Sacraments of the holy Church. (Saint Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, Dialogue 9, Ch. 120)

  • “They are My anointed ones, and I call them My Christs”

I have told you all this, dearest daughter, that you may the better recognize the dignity to which I have called My ministers, so that your grief at their miseries may be more intense. […] no greater dignity exists in this life. They are My anointed ones, and I call them My Christs, because I have given them the office of administering Me to you, and have placed them like fragrant flowers in the mystical body of the holy Church. The angel himself has no such dignity, for I have given it to those men whom I have chosen for My ministers, and whom I have appointed as earthly angels in this life. (Saint Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, Dialogue 9, Ch. 118)

Catechism of Trent

  • Empowered in God’s name to teach mankind the divine law and the rules of conduct

Bishops and priests being, as they are, God’s interpreters and ambassadors, empowered in His name to teach mankind the divine law and the rules of conduct, and holding, as they do, His place on earth, it is evident that no nobler function than theirs can be imagined. Justly, therefore, are they called not only Angels, but even gods, because of the fact that they exercise in our midst the power and prerogatives of the immortal God. (Catechism of Trent, no. 2500)

Vatican Council II

  • The Christian faithful should have filial love for the priests

In virtue of the sacrament of Orders, exercise the most outstanding and necessary office of father and teacher among and for the People of God […] in virtue of the sacrament of Orders, exercise the most outstanding and necessary office of father and teacher among and for the People of God, […] The Christian faithful, for their part, should realize their obligations to their priests, and with filial love they should follow them as their pastors and fathers. In like manner, sharing their cares, they should help their priests by prayer and work insofar as possible so that their priests might more readily overcome difficulties and be able to fulfill their duties more fruitfully. (Vatican Council II. Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 9, December 7, 1965)

Saint John Chrysostom

  • The priestly office is discharged on earth, but it ranks amongst heavenly ordinances

For the priestly office is indeed discharged on earth, but it ranks amongst heavenly ordinances; and very naturally so: for neither man, nor angel, nor archangel, nor any other created power, but the Paraclete Himself, instituted this vocation, and persuaded men while still abiding in the flesh to represent the ministry of angels. Wherefore the consecrated priest ought to be as pure as if he were standing in the heavens themselves in the midst of those powers. (Saint John Chrysostom. On the Priesthood, Book III, no. 304)

  • Adorned with a more excellent principality

Certainly the priest is much more worthy of honor and veneration than the king, since he is called to a more excellent principality. (Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on Ann)

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

  • The priesthood is the most sublime of all created dignities – he is inferior only to God

The priesthood is the most sublime of all created dignities […] the priest of God is exalted above all earthly sovereignties, and above all celestial heights he is inferior only to God. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Duties and Dignity of a priest, Ch.1, 1 – pg. 23)

Pius XI

  • These august powers are stable and perpetual

These august powers are conferred upon the priest in a special Sacrament designed to this end: they are not merely passing or temporary in the priest, but are stable and perpetual, united as they are with the indelible character imprinted on his soul whereby he becomes “a priest forever”; whereby he becomes like unto Him in whose eternal priesthood he has been made a sharer. Even the most lamentable downfall, which, through human frailty, is possible to a priest, can never blot out from his soul the priestly character. (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad Catholici sacerdotii, no. 22, December 20, 1935)

  • A dignity so lofty that its splendor is cannot be dimmed even by unworthiness

Most sublime, then, Venerable Brethren, is the dignity of the priesthood. Even the falling away of the few unworthy in the priesthood, however deplorable and distressing it may be, cannot dim the splendor of so lofty a dignity. Much less can the unworthiness of a few cause the worth and merit of so many to be overlooked; and how many have been, and are, in the priesthood, preeminent in holiness, in learning, in works of zeal, nay, even in martyrdom. (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad Catholici sacerdotii, no. 31, December 20, 1935)

Catechism of Saint Pius X

  • Two-fold power: over Christ’s real Body, and over His mystical body

The dignity of the Christian Priesthood is great indeed, because of the two-fold power which Jesus Christ has conferred upon it — that over His real body and that over His mystical body, or the Church; and because of the divine mission committed to priests to lead men to eternal life. (Catechism of Saint Pius X, The Sacrament of Holy Orders, no. 6)

Pius XI

  • Power over the very Body of Jesus Christ

And thus the ineffable greatness of the human priest stands forth in all its splendor; for he has power over the very Body of Jesus Christ, and makes It present upon our altars. In the name of Christ Himself he offers It a victim infinitely pleasing to the Divine Majesty. ‘Wondrous things are these,’ justly exclaims St. John Chrysostom, ‘so wonderful, they surpass wonder.’ (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad Catholici sacerdotii, no. 16, December 20, 1935)

Pius XII

  • The organs whereby this Mystical Body develops

Not only do they procure and communicate Christ’s grace to the members of His Mystical Body, but they are also the organs whereby this Mystical Body develops because they must ever give the Church new sons, bring them up, educate them, and guide them. (Pius XII. Apostolic Exhortation Menti nostrae, no. 56, September 23, 1950)

John Paul II

  • Priests are at the very heart of the Church’s existence and her mission in history

Without priests the Church would not be able to live that fundamental obedience which is at the very heart of her existence and her mission in history, an obedience in response to the command of Christ: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.’ (Mt. 28:19) and ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ (Lk 22:19; cf. 1 Cor 11:24), i.e: an obedience to the command to announce the Gospel and to renew daily the sacrifice of the giving of his body and the shedding of his blood for the life of the world. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, no. 26, March 25, 1992)

Benedict XVI

  • Irreplaceable mission

Nothing will ever substitute the ministry of priests in the life of the Church. (Benedict XVI. Greetings to the Portuguese speaking priests at the end of the Eucharist Celebration for the Conclusion of the Year for Priests, June 11, 2010)


V – The aim of anticlericalism is to destroy the Church


Pius XI

  • The enemies of the Church direct their first and fiercest blow against the priesthood

A last tribute to the priesthood is given by the enemies of the Church […] they show that they fully appreciate the dignity and importance of the Catholic priesthood, by directing against it their first and fiercest blows; since they know well how close is the tie that binds the Church to her priests. (Pius XI. Encyclical Ad Catholici sacerdotii, no. 30, Decmeber 20, 1935)

Leo XIII

  • The authentic declaration of Masonic writers is to lay clericalism waste in its foundations

To lay Clericalism waste in its foundations and in its very sources of life, namely, in the school and in the family: such is the authentic declaration of Masonic writers. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Dall´alto dell´apostolico seggio, no. 4, October 15, 1890)

John XXIII

  • Those who want to overthrow religion always try in their hatred to strike at priests first of all

This is not surprising; for those who hate the Church always show their hostility by trying to harm and deceive her sacred ministers; as the Cure of Ars himself admitted, those who want to overthrow religion always try in their hatred to strike at priests first of all. (John XXIII. Encyclical Sacerdotii nostri primordia, August 1, 1959)


 

Note 1: The authors of this study are aware that the Press Office of the Vatican has denied the interpretations that some media sources have attributed to certain affirmations contained in the interviews of Pope Francis with Eugenio Scalfari. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that some of these sources are still published on the Vatican website (found by clicking on the links of the articles), and published in the weekly English edition of L’Osservatore Romano, n. 41 on the 9th of October, 2013, thus lending an official air to their content, seemingly with the approval of Pope Francis himself.
In the midst of all the turmoil and confusion caused, we always feel that a presentation of the true doctrine be made with clarity, together with such affirmations. We must not forget that the majority of the public read only the titles that the media publishes, and, as we know, the latter frequently manipulate the truth. Consequently, it appears that a mere declaration that the content of these interviews does not correspond with the textual words of Pope Francis, is simply not sufficient. As such, we publish this article with the intention of clarifying and orienting the faithful, who have always been the principle objective of this page, as we had expressed in our letter of presentation. In this way, each one can make a correct judgment, having beforehand attained knowledge of the truth.

Eugenio_Scalfari_entrevista_al_papa_FranciscoPrint screen of the Interview on the Vatican Page on August  22,  2015.

Fr. Lombardi explained that the interview with Scalfari would be taken off the Vatican page: “he information in the interview is reliable on a general level but not on the level of each individual point analysed: this is why it was decided the text should not be available for consultation on the Holy See website. Its removal is a final update on the nature of this text. Some mistakes were made regarding its value, which was questioned. The Secretariat of State took the decision” (Vatican Insider, November 15, 2013). Nonetheless, the Denzinger-Bergoglio confirms that the interview still continues on the Vatican Site…


Discover another innovation:

Can Catechism be equalled to Yoga or Zen?

 

 

 

One thought on “86 – When I have a clericalist in front of me I suddenly become anticlerical. Clericalism shouldn’t have any part in Christianity

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