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Vat. Ecum. Council II
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SECTION 2 Priests' Relationships with Others

7. All priests, in union with bishops, so share in one and the same priesthood and ministry of Christ that the very unity of their consecration and mission requires their hierarchical communion with the order of bishops.32 At times in an excellent manner they manifest this communion in liturgical concelebration as joined with the bishop when they celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice.33 Therefore, by reason of the gift of the Holy Spirit which is given to priests in Holy Orders, bishops regard them as necessary helpers and counselors in the ministry and in their role of teaching, sanctifying and nourishing the People of God.34 Already in the ancient ages of the Church we find liturgical texts proclaiming this with insistence, as when they solemnly call upon God to pour out upon the candidate for priestly ordination "the spirit of grace and counsel, so that with a pure heart he may help and govern the People of God,"35 just as in the desert the spirit of Moses was spread abroad in the minds of the seventy prudent men,36 "and using them as helpers among the people, he easily governed countless multitudes."37

Therefore, on account of this communion in the same priesthood and ministry, bishops should regard priests as their brothers and friends38 and be concerned as far as they are able for their material and especially for their spiritual well-being. For above all upon the bishops rests the heavy responsibility for the sanctity of their priests.39 Therefore, they should exercise the greatest care in the continual formation of their priests.40 They should gladly listen to their priests, indeed consult them and engage in dialogue with them in those matters which concern the necessities of pastoral work and welfare of the diocese. In order to put this into effect, there should be-in a manner suited to today's conditions and necessities,41 and with a structure and norms to be determined by law-a body or senate42 of priests representing all the priests. This representative body by its advice will be able to give the bishop effective assistance in the administration of the diocese.

Priests, never losing sight of the fullness of the priesthood which the bishops enjoy, must respect in them the authority of Christ, the Supreme Shepherd. They must therefore stand by their bishops in sincere charity and obedience.43 This priestly obedience, imbued with a spirit of cooperation is based on the very sharing in the episcopal ministry which is conferred on priests both through the Sacrament of Orders and the canonical mission.44

This union of priests with their bishops is all the more necessary today since in our present age, for various reasons, apostolic undertakings must necessarily not only take on many forms but frequently extend even beyond the boundaries of one parish or diocese. No priest, therefore, can on his own accomplish his mission in a satisfactory way. He can do so only by joining forces with other priests under the direction of the Church authorities.

8. Priests by virtue of their ordination to the priesthood are united among themselves in an intimate sacramental brotherhood. In individual dioceses, priests form one priesthood under their own bishop. Even though priests are assigned to different duties, nevertheless they carry on one priestly ministry for men. All priests are sent as co-workers in the same apostolate, whether they engage in parochial or extra-parochial ministry. This is true whether they devote their efforts to scientific research or teaching, or whether by manual labor they share in the lot of the workers themselves-if there is need for this and competent authority approves-or finally whether they fulfill some other apostolic tasks or labor designed for the apostolate. All, indeed, are united in the building up of the Body of Christ which, especially in our times, requires manifold duties and new methods. It is very important that all priests, whether diocesan or religious, help one another always to be fellow workers in the truth.45 Each one, therefore, is united in special bonds of apostolic charity, ministry and brotherhood with the other members of this priesthood. This has been manifested from ancient times in the liturgy when the priests present at an ordination are invited to impose hands together with the ordaining bishop on the new candidate, and with united hearts concelebrate the Sacred Eucharist. Each and every priest, therefore, is united with his fellow priests in a bond of charity, prayer and total cooperation. In this manner, they manifest that unity which Christ willed, namely, that his own be perfected in one so that the world might know that the Son was sent by the Father.46

Older priests, therefore, should receive younger priests as true brothers and help them in their first undertakings and priestly duties. The older ones should likewise endeavor to understand the mentality of younger priests, even though it be different from their own, and follow their projects with good will. By the same token, young priests should respect the age and experience of their seniors; they should seek their advice and willingly cooperate with them in everything that pertains to the care of souls. In a fraternal spirit, priests should extend hospitality,47 cultivate kindliness and share their goods in common.48 They should be particularly solicitous for the sick, the afflicted, those overburdened with work, the lonely, those exiled from their homeland, and those who suffer persecution.49 They should gladly and joyfully gather together for recreation, remembering Christ's invitation to the weary apostles: "Come aside to a desert place, and rest awhile" (Mk 6:31). And further, in order that priests may find mutual assistance in the development of their spiritual and intellectual life, that they may be able to cooperate more effectively in their ministry and be saved from the dangers of loneliness which may arise, it is necessary that some kind of common life or some sharing of common life be encouraged among priests. This, however, may take many forms, according to different personal or pastoral needs, such as living together where this is possible, or having a common table, or at least by frequent and periodic meetings. One should hold also in high regard and eagerly promote those associations which, having been recognized by competent ecclesiastical authority, encourage priestly holiness in the ministry by the use of an appropriate and duly approved rule of life and by fraternal aid, intending thus to do service to the whole order of priests.

Finally, by reason of the same communion in the priesthood, priests should realize that they are obliged in a special manner toward those priests who labor under certain difficulties. They should give them timely help, and also, if necessary, admonish them discreetly. Moreover, they should always treat with fraternal charity and magnanimity those who have failed in some matters, offer urgent prayers to God for them, and continually show themselves as true brothers and friends.

9. Though priests of the New Testament, 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, they are nevertheless, together with all Christ's faithful, disciples of the Lord, made sharers in his Kingdom by the grace of God's call.50 For priests are brothers among brothers51 with all those who have been reborn at the baptismal font. They are all members of one and the same Body of Christ, the building up of which is required of everyone.52

Priests, therefore, must take the lead in seeking the things of Jesus Christ, not the things that are their own.53 They must work together with the lay faithful, and conduct themselves in their midst after the example of their Master, who among men "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as redemption for many" (Mt 20:28). Priests must sincerely acknowledge and promote the dignity of the laity and the part proper to them in the mission of the Church. And they should hold in high honor that just freedom which is due to everyone in the earthly city. They must willingly listen to the laity, consider their wants in a fraternal spirit, recognize their experience and competence in the different areas of human activity, so that together with them they will be able to recognize the signs of the times. While trying the spirits to see if they be of God,54 priests should uncover with a sense of faith, acknowledge with joy and foster with diligence the various humble and exalted charisms of the laity. Among the other gifts of God, which are found in abundance among the laity, those are worthy of special mention by which not a few of the laity are attracted to a higher spiritual life. Likewise, they should confidently entrust to the laity duties in the service of the Church, allowing them freedom and room for action; in fact, they should invite them on suitable occasions to undertake worlds on their own initiative.55

Finally priests have been placed in the midst of the laity to lead them to the unity of charity, "loving one another with fraternal love, eager to give one another precedence" (Rom 12:10). It is their task, therefore, to reconcile differences of mentality in such a way that no one need feel himself a stranger in the community of the faithful. They are defenders of the common good, with which they are charged in the name of the bishop. At the same time, they are strenuous assertors of the truth, lest the faithful be carried about by every wind of doctrine.56 They are united by a special solicitude with those who have fallen away from the use of the sacraments, or perhaps even from the faith. Indeed, as good shepherds, they should not cease from going out to them.

Mindful of the prescripts on ecumenism,57 let them not forget their brothers who do not enjoy full ecclesiastical communion with us.

Finally, they have entrusted to them all those who do not recognize Christ as their Savior.

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.58


. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964, n 28: AAS 57 (1965), p 35.


. Cf. cited Ecclesiastical Constitution of the Apostles, XVIII: (ed. Th. Schermann, Die allgemeine Kirchenordnung, I, Paderborn 1914, p 26; A. Harnack, T. u. U., II, 4, p 13, nn 18 and 19); Pseudo-Jerome, The Seven Orders of the Church (ed. A.W. Kalff, Wurzburg 1937, p 45); St. Isidore of Hispali, Ecclesiastical Offices, c. VII (PL 83, 787).


. Cf. Didascalia, II, 28, 4 (ed. F.X. Funk, p 108); Constitutions of the Apostles, II, 28, 4;II, 34, 3 (ibid., pp 109 and 117).


. Constitutions of the Apostles, VIII, 16, 4 (ed. F.X. Funk, 1, p 522, 13); cf. Epitome of the Constitutions of the Apostles, VI (ibid., II, p 80, 3-4); Testamentum Domini, (transl. I.E. Rahmani, Moguntiae 1899, p 69). Also in Trad. Apost. (ed. B. Botte, La Tradition Apostolique, Munster, i. W. 1963, p 20).


. Cf. Nm 11:16-25.


. Roman Pontifical on the ordination of a priest, preface: these words are also found in the Leonine Sacramentary, the Gelasian Sacramentary and the Gregorian Sacramentary. Similar words can be found in the Oriental Liturgies: cf. Trad Apost.: (ancient Latin version of Verona, ed. B. Botte, La Tradition Apostolique de St. Hippolyte. Essai de reconstruction, Munster i. W. 1963, p 20); Constitutions of the Apostles, VIII, 16, 4 (ed. F.X. Funk, I, p 522, 16- 17); Epitome on the Constitutions of the Apostles, 6 (ed. F.X. Funk, II, p 20, 5-7); Testamentum Domini (transl. I.E. Rahmani, Moguntiae 1899, p 69); Euchologium Serapionis, XXVII (ed. F.X. Funk, Didascalia and Constitutions, II, p 190, lines 1-7); Maronite Rite of Ordination (transl. H. Denzinger, Rites of the Orientals, II, Wurzburg 1863, p. 161). Among the Fathers can be cited: Theodore of Mopsuestia, On First Timothy, 3, 8 (ed. Swete, II, pp 119-121); Theodoretus, Questions on Numbers, XVIII (PG 80, 372 b).


. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964, n 28: AAS 57 (1965), p 35.


. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, Aug. 1, 1959: AAS 51 (1959), p 576; St. Pius X, Exhortation to the Clergy Haerent Animo, Aug. 4, 1908: Acts of St. Pius X, vol. IV (1908), pp 237 ff.


. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Pastoral Duties of Bishops, Oct. 28, 1956 nn 15 and 16.


. The Cathedral Chapter is already found in established law, as the "senate and assembly" of the bishop (Code of Canon Law, c.391), or if there is not one, an assembly of diocesan consultors (cf. Code of Canon Law, cc. 423-428). It is our desire to give recognition to such institutions so that modern circumstances and necessities might better be provided for. As is evident, this synod of priests forms the pastoral consilium spoken of in the Decree on the Pastoral Duties of Bishops of Oct. 28, 1965 (n.27), of which the laity can also be members, and whose function is mainly to map out a plan of action for pastoral work. Concerning priests as counselors of the bishops, one might refer to the Didascalia, II, 28, 4 (ed. F.X. Funk,II, p 108); also Constitutions of the Apostles, II 28,4 (ed. F.X. Funk, I, p 109); St. Ignatius Martyr, Magn. 6, 1 (ed. F.X. Funk, p 234, 10-16); Trall. 3, 1 (ed. F.X. Funk, p 244, 10-12); Origen, Against Celsus, 3, 30: "Priests are counselors or 'bouleytai'" (PG 11, 957 d-960 a).


. St. Ignatius Martyr, Magn. 6, 1: (ed. F.X. Funk, p 234, 10-13); St. Ignatius Martyr, Trall., 3, 1: (ibid., p 244, 10-12); St. Jerome, On Isaiah, II, 3 (PL 24, 61 A).


. Cf. Paul VI, allocution to the family heads of Rome and Lenten speakers, March 1, 1965, in the Sistine Hall: AAS 57 (1965), p 326.


. Cf. Constitutions of the Apostles, VIII 47, 39: (ed. F.X. Funk, p 577).


. Cf. 3 Jn 8.


. Cf. Jn. 17:23.


. Cf. Heb 13:1-2.


. Cf. Heb 13:16.


. Cf. Mt 5:10.


. Cf. 1 Thes 2:12; Col 1:13.


. Cf. Mt 23:8. Also Paul VI, encyclical letter Ecclesiam Suam, Aug. 6, 1964: AAS 58 (1964) p 647.


. Cf. Eph 4:7 and 16; Constitutions of the Apostles, VIII, 1, 20: (ed. F.X. Funk, I, p 467).


. Cf. Phil 2:21.


. Cf. 1 Jn 4:1.


. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964, n 37: AAS 57 (1965), pp 42-43.


. Cf. Eph 4:14.


.Cf.Second Vatican Council, Decree on Ecumenism, Nov. 21, 1964: AAS 57 (1965), pp 90ff.


. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, Nov 21, 1964, n 37: AAS 57 (1965), pp 42-43.

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