“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.” (P.O. 8)
Presbyrorum Ordinis is quite clear in uniting the clergy among themselves with the bishop – in what is called theologically the “sacramental brotherhood.” This is not to indicate that priests form an exclusive fraternity among themselves. It’s purpose is to make effective through affective brotherhood the ministry of service of the clergy towards men. Pope Francis would always say that priests and bishops should “smell like their sheep.” This theological reality and truth would be well considered during the year of the clergy and consecrated persons in the country with it’s renewed servant leadership as presented in its official logo.
This unity of love between and among the clergy in their mission is “prior” to the active apostolate. Peter when asked by our Lord to feed his sheep, that is to do “ministry” asked him “Do you love me?” That means charity is always an imminent place before the apostolate and it is in the ministerial service that priests grow in charity.
This love among the ordained also leads them to be one with their bishop and with one another since the first fruit of love is unity. In fact it was said that Jesus prayed for the unity of the apostles, so that “all may be one”. In other words, those who wanted to follow Christ are invited first of all to be one – a feat that could be difficult, but nevertheless it is Jesus, who prayed. If it is Jesus who prayed for unity, then it must be attainable if not readily granted for it is a God who prays for it. It is His will and therefore it is both and invitation and an imperative.
One of the greatest cause of division among the clergy, we have to admit, is the generation gap: the division between the old and young clergy. Many solutions, psychological, social, generational, etc has been forwarded. In fact in the country one usually thinks of being a member of the young clergy, the junior clergy, senior clergy etc. Though this may help him the growth of the priests, obviously it could readily create a certain division.
With the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, present in the Second Vatican Council, the same document states: “Older priests . . . 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 cultivate kindliness and share their goods in common.” (P.O. 8)
A “true brother” is not a competitor but a gift in the shared ministry. There is no need to be threatened to be threatening in the ministerial field. All these precepts of the Second Vatican Council would be in vain if there is not underlying and foundational basis of charity among the priests: a charity showed to us by Christ by offering his life. If one is ready to offer one’s life for the flock and therefore also for his brother priests, then all these generational problems between them could be overcome.
In fact, the first effect of this mutual love in the first Christians is the communion of goods which the Council tries of cultivate in the relationship between them. But this sharing of goods could end only like in cooperatives if there these no mutual charity behind. If one is willing to offer his life, what is money to be shared? It is almost nothing compared to offering one’s life. We pray the Lord’s Prayer which start “Our Father” recognizing God as our one Father; and therefore, we are one family in the same fatherhood of God. Why would it be difficult for ordained priests share their “pockets”?
I think, this is not only limited to a particular diocese. If the “collegial communion” among bishops is a concrete reality, then bishops of a financially fortunate diocese cold also cultivate among themselves this communion by effectively helping the priests of each other’s dioceses. But much has to be desired in this year of the clergy and consecrated persons.
This coming year could be a opportune time to deepen this necessary aspect of realizing into concrete the fraternity envisioned by the truth on sacramental brotherhood of priests! In other words: in as much priests have a share in the same priesthood of Christ; many of our lay faithful could ask: if they share in the same priesthood theologically, why it is that they don’t share the goods that they economically receive concretely?