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Fatherhood of the bishop in relation to presbyters


(Lecture by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes at the “Updating Seminar for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples”, for Bishops with less than three years of Episcopal Ordainment, at the Pontifical College of Rome, on September 13th, 2008)

Cardinal Claudio Hummes Opus Bono Sacerdotii

Very dear and revered friends of the Episcopate!

   I’d like to wholeheartedly thank His Eminence Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, for his invitation to address you, at this seminar, about the “Fatherhood of the Bishop in relation to Presbyters”. I’d like to greet you and, through you, I’d like to extend my special and thankful greetings to all the clergy in your Particular Churches.

   Today, our presbyters need a special and loving attention. In many countries their number keeps declining and their average age has grown too much. On the other hand, the present society, being post-modern, secularist and laycist, relativist and indifferent with regard to religion, makes the work and the life of priests more and more tiring and demanding. It is true that there are still some regions of the world where religiosity is strong and remarkably widespread and, sometimes, also showing a growing number of priests. Still, different serious problems often challenge the ministery of priests in those regions, such as the poverty and material hardship of most people, the lack of resources and the lack of the necessary conditions for a good pastoral infrastructure and, quite often, the proselytist activism of Sects, being often deeply anti-catholic. However, we cannot forget that these regions are slowly being reached, through mass media and human mobilità, by the present post-modern dominant global culture, in an more and more devastating way.

   Furthermore, there are some issues that have so often been emphasized, and sometimes overrated, by mass media over the last few years, issues concerning, that is true, a small part of the Clergy, i.e. the issues of sexual deviations and abuse. The most severe is, definitely, that of pedophilia, that is primarily severe because children are the victims and they will be traumatized and injured in their personality throughout their lives. If there were just one case, it would already be very serious and deeply alarming for the Church. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of just a few isolated cases. However, we must say it loud: the priests involved in these more serious problems are a very small part of the Clergy. Then, there is a certain number of them who do not abide by celibacy or are involved in homosexuality. These are issues as well that Bishops must attempt to settle, according to the orientations of the Church. However, the large majority of our presbyters are individuals who are generous and painstaking in giving their lives and all their energies, with great human sacrifice, in favour of the people, especially to serve the poor and the outcast, those suffering injustice and the destitutes. Most of these priests, despite their ordinary weaknesses and human limitations, that we all share, are faithful to their vocation and mission, faithful and zealous in fulfilling their ministry, in surrendering themselves to the Lord and to the Ministry. Therefore, despite this small part of “problematic” presbyters, we can and we have to be proud of our priests and prove to them that we are proud, that we admire them and even that we really revere and love them, with great gratitude.


   In this context, it proves to be really important that the Bishops may be the fathers of their priests. Let us start by recalling that our presbyters, through the presbyteral ordination, are our “necessary helpers and counselors in the ministry and in their role of teaching, sanctifying and nourishing the People of God” as is stated in the Presbyterorum Ordinis (n. 7). We can’t forget that our priest have been given to us in Christ by God the Father, for the good of the Church and for the salvation of the human race, as “prudent cooperators” (Lumen Gentium, 28) and as “brothers and friends” (Presbyteriorum Ordinis, 7).

The Directory for the pastoral ministery of Bishops (DPMB) (2004) reads: “As Vicar of the great Shepherd of the sheep (Heb 13:20), the Bishop manifests through his life and his episcopal ministry the fatherhood of God. He reaveals the goodness, the loving care, the mercy, the gentleness and the authority of Christ, who came to give his life and to gather all people into one family, reconciling them in the love of the Father.” (DPMB, 1).

   As to the theological foundation of the Bishop’s fatherhood in relation to his presbyters, I would like to mention a few things. It is basically a communio sacramentalis. “At the beginning of his mission, the Lord Jesus, after praying to the Father, appointed twelve Apostles to be with him and to be sent out to preach the Kingdom of God and to cast out demons. [Mk 3, 14-15]. Jesus willed the Twelve to be an undivided college with Peter as head, and so it was that they carried out their mission as eye-witnesses of his resurrection, beginning from Jerusalem (cf. Lk 24:47), and then to all the peoples of the earth (cf Mk 16:20)” (DPMB, 9).

   The Twelve Apostles, in turn, in order for their apostolic ministry, received from Christ, not to become extinct upon their death, but for it to last throughout the centuries, layed their hands on the co-workers they had selected and invoked the Holy Spirit upon them, making them, accordingly, participate in this ministry. Subsequently, the successors of the Apostles, i.e. the Bishops, have in turn handed on, in the same form, the apostolic ministry to those they would be succeeded by throughout the centuries, till today.

   The document Lumen Gentium (LG), of Vatican Council II, adds: “The bishops have legitimately handed on to different individuals in the Church various degrees of participation in this ministry. Thus, the divinely established ecclesiastical ministry is exercised on different levels by those who from antiquity have been called bishops, priests and deacons. Priests, although they do not possess the highest degree of priesthood, and although they are dependent on the bishops in the exercise of their power, nevertheless they are united with the bishops in sacerdotal dignity. By the power of the sacrament of the Orders, in the image of Christ, the Eternal High Priest (see Heb 5,1-10; 7,24; 9,11-28), they are consecrated to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful and to celebrate divine worship, so that they are true priests of the New Testament ” (LG, 28). Then, the Lumen Gentium goes on to say that priests “constitute one priesthood with their bishop, although bound by a diversity of duties” and being “ associated with their bishop in a spirit of trust and generosity, they make him present in a certain sense in the individual local congregations”. Therefore, “let priests sincerely look upon the bishop as their father and reverently obey him. And let the bishop regard his priests as his co-workers and as sons and friends (cf. LG, 28).


   The conciliar document Christus Dominus deals with the fatherhood of the Bishop by saying : “All presbyters, both diocesan and religious, participate in and exercise with the bishop the one priesthood of Christ and are thereby constituted prudent cooperators of the episcopal order. […] In consequence, they form one presbytery and one family, whose father is the bishop” (n.28).


   According to the Council, the fatherhood of the bishop with respect to his presbyters is founded on a communio sacramentalis, i.e., the foundation is the Sacrament of the Order that the bishop has received in its fullness, as successor to the apostles, and then, he made other men in the community partake in this priesthood

“in a lesser degree” (PO,2), laying his hands on them and invoking the Holy Spirit on them. They are the presbyters, for whom the bishop is, accordingly, like a father. The bishop, in addressing his presbyters, can exclaim like Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians; “for I became your father” (1 Cor 4,15).

   In this way, we have the insight that our episcopal fatherhood is not simply a virtuous attitude or a choice we make: it is sacramental gift and mistery of grace in Christ at the same time. As a result, the episcopal fatherhood concerns the episcopal ministry as a whole, according to its three dimensions of teaching, sanctifying and ruling, dimensions that participate in the triple cultural, prophetic and royal munus of the Supreme Priesthood of Christ, the only Mediator of the “inscrutable riches” (Eph 3,8) for our salvation.

   The attribute of “father”, referred to bishops, can already be found in early patristics, especially from the third century. St. Ignacius of Antioch, the martyr, in addressing early christian communities, on the special episcopal participation in the divine fatherhood, wrote to Trallians: “Similarly let all respect […] the Bishop who is the image of the Father (n.3); to Christians at Magnesia he wrote, “I have learned that the holy presbyters also have not taken advantage of his outwardly youthful estate, but give place to him as to one prudent in God; yet not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, even to the Bishop of all (n.3). To the Community at Smyrna he wrote:

“ Do ye all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father (n.8).

   May the Bishop, in exercising his ministry of father and shepherd, first of all towards his priests, may he always be like the one who serves, having under his eyes the example of Jesus Christ who came not to be served, but to serve. The Lord, while washing the feet of his disciples, told them and all of us, the Bishops: “I have given you an example” (John 13,15).

   The document mentioned, Christus Dominus, with respect to presbyters, recommends to their bishops that as fathers “be ready to listen to them. […] Bishops should always embrace priests with a special love ”; “they should be solicitous for the spiritual, intellectual and material welfare of the priests so that the latter can live holy and pious lives and fulfill their ministry faithfully and fruitfully. (n.16).

   To the extent possibile, the Bishop must open his agenda to each of the priests, each of them taken individually, in a sincere quest for cooperation as well as human and spiritual growth. Thus, inside the Bishop will grow a genuine interest to actually know the concrete situation of the priest. He will begin to appreciate more properly the different circumstances in which the priest can find himself: even his solitude, his tiredness, his trials, dejection, confusion or, positively, his pastoral zeal, his pastoral activities, his initiatives, his skills, his aspirations and joys, as well as the fruits of his priestly work.

“It is important to be aware of the danger that years of work and the difficulties inherent in the ministry may lead to a certain weariness or fatigue. […]. The Bishop should study, case by case, the form of spiritual, intellectual and physical renewal that could help a priest resume his ministry with fresh vigour” (Directory…of Bishops, 81).

This may happen when the priest wears himself out and gets exhausted because of an illness or moral fatigue.

Sometimes, it may be the case that a state of neglect and boredom may affect the priest who is just concerned with his self-fulfillment in the ministry, that becomes career-oriented, rather than service-oriented. Then, haughtiness, indignation or arrogance can surface in the presbyter.

The Bishop should always deal with these difficulties with sympathy and benevolence; moreover, he should go and assist priests in all difficulties of human and spiritual kind that they can encounter in the exercise of their ministry. When one can say that the pain and the joy of the priest are actually part of the inner heritage of the Bishop, not only will he love but, certainly, will also be loved by his priests. The Bishop will be able to exclaim with St. Paul: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I burn not? (2 Cor 11,29).

In this regard, I would like to remind that understanding, mercy, and forgiveness are an integral part of the charity of a Bishop who is a father. In the relationship with his presbyters, mercy, in particular, must be considered and lived by the Bishop in the light of Christ. In this way, priests will never be alone.


   As regards priests who, unfortunately, are seriously guilty sometimes also under the civil law, as regards their priestly and human duties, first of all the Bishop has to look at, cater for and ricognize the injuries and the injured rights of the victims, especially when it’s a question of minors and children, as in the case of pedophilia and other types of abuse, that are offences under the canon and civil law. We know the firm and lucid position of our beloved Pope Benedict XVI concerning pedophile priests. In Australia, the Pope spoke of the “shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. Indeed I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering. These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. […] Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice (Homily, July 19, 2008, during the Eucharist celebration with bishops, seminarians and novices). Already before his Apostolic journey to the United States of America, Pope Benedict XVI said: “We will absolutely exclude paedophiles from the sacred ministry: it is absolutely incompatible, and whoever is really guilty of being a paedophile cannot be a priest. So at this first level we can do justice and help the victims, because they are deeply affected. These are the two sides of justice: one, that paedophiles cannot be priests and the order, to help in any possible way the victims. Then there is a pastoral level. The victims will need healing and help and assistance and reconciliation: this is a big pastoral engagement and I know that the Bishops and priests and all Catholic people in the United States will do whatever possible to help, to assist, to heal. (Interview of The Holy Father Benedict XVI during the flight to the USA, April 15, 2008)

   It is now important to talk about priestly celibacy. Jesus Christ chose not to marry and live in perfect virginity, Pope Paul VI, in the Encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (Sac.Cael.) (1967), explains: “Christ remained throughout His whole life in the state of celibacy, which signified His total dedication to the service of God and men. This deep concern between celibacy and the priesthood of Christ is reflected in those whose fortune it is to share in the dignity and mission of the Mediator and eternal Priest; this sharing will be more perfect the freer the sacred minister is from the bonds of flesh and blood.” (Sac.Cael.,21). The same Encyclical presents three motives for celibacy: its Christological, ecclesiological and eschatological significance.

   Let us start with the Christological significance. Christ is newness. He achieves a new creation. His priesthood is new. Christ renews all things. The Lord Jesus, God’s only son, sent by the Father into the world, “became man, in order that humanity which was subject to sin and death might be reborn, and through this new birth might enter the kingdom of heaven. Being entirely consecrated to the will of the Father, Jesus brought forth this new creation by means of His Paschal mystery, thus, He introduced into time and into the world a new form of life which is sublime and divine and which radically transforms the human conditions.“(Sac.Cael.,19).


The natural marriage itself, blessed by God ever since the creation, but later offended by sin, was renewed by Christ, who “has raised it to the dignity of a sacrament of a mysterious symbol of His own union with the Church. […] Christ, Mediator of a superior Covenant, has also opened a new way, in which the human creature, adheres wholly and directly to the Lord, and is concerned with Him and His affairs, thus, he manifests in a clearer and more complete way the profoundly transforming reality of the New Testament.” (Sac.Cael.,20).

   This novelty, this new path, is a life of virginity, that Jesus himself lived, in harmony with his role as mediator between heaven and earth, between the Father and the human race. “Fully in accord with this mission, Christ remained throughout his whole life in the state of celibacy, which signified His total dedication to the service of God and men” (Sac.Cael.,21). To the service of God and men signifies a love without reservations, which marked the life of Jesus among us. That is, celibacy for the love of God’s kingdom.

   Christ, calling his priests to become ministers of Salvation, of the new creation, asks them to live a life of newness, united and similar to Him, in the most perfect form possible. This is where the gift of celibacy originates, as a complete configuration with Jesus and the prophecy of the new creation. This leads us to the eschatological significance of celibacy, as a sign and prophecy of God’s final second coming, when we will all resurrect from death. As the Second Vatican Council teaches us, the Church “ here below constitutes the seed and the beginning of this kingdom” (Lumen Gentium, 5). Celibacy, for the love of God’s kingdom, is a specific sign of the “latter times”, thus, the Lord announced: “when the dead will rise to life, they will be like angels and will not marry” (Mt 23,30). In a World like ours, a world of shows and easy pleasures, deeply fascinated by earthly goods, especially by progress in sciences and technologies – biologic sciences and bio-technologies- the announcement of an afterlife, a future world, a Parisian, as an ultimate event of a new creation, is decisive. Such an announcement frees from the ambiguity of aporia, noise, contradictions, from the true good and new scientific findings that human progress entails.

   Finally, the ecclesiological significance of celibacy leads us directly to the priest’s pastoral activity. The Encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus states: “The consecrated celibacy of the sacred ministers actually manifests the virginal love of Christ for the Church, and the virginal and supernatural fecundity of this marriage” (Sac.Cael.,26). The priest, similar to Christ and in Christ, mystically marries the Church with exclusive love. Thus, completely dedicating himself to Christ’s undertakings and his mystical body, the priest acquires a broad spiritual freedom to serve with love all men, without distinction. “In a similar way, by a daily dying to himself, by living up the legitimate love of a family of his own for the love of Christ and His kingdom, the priest will find the glory of an exceedingly rich and fruitful life in Christ, because like Him and in Him, he loves and dedicates himself to all the children of God”. (Sac.Cael.,30).

   The Encyclical also adds that celibacy increases the priest’s ability to listen to the Word of God and to pray and completely offer his life to the altar, through sacrifice. It also stresses the importance of spiritual formation of the priest, who is called to be “testify the Almighty”. The years of remote formation, within the family and especially the years spent in the seminar, true school of love, where as an apostolic community, young seminarians must maintain an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, awaiting for the Holy Spirit’s gift to be sent to mission. Consequently, the priest’s spirituality is an intimate way to live united to Him, in a relationship of interior communion that must take the form of friendship. A priest’s life, after all, is unconceivable without Christ. There lies the strength of its testimony; virginity for the kingdom of God is something real that Christ achieved and rendered possible. Only those who have Christ as a friend and Lord and live in communion with Him can testify the Almighty. Therefore, Sacerdotalis Caelibatus reads: “The priest should apply himself above all else to developing, with all the love grace inspires in him, his close relationship with Christ, and exploring this inexhaustible and enriching mystery; he should acquire an ever deeper sense of the mystery of the Church. There would be the risk of his state of life seeming unreasonable and unfounded if it is viewed apart from this mystery for the observance of celibacy.” (Sac.Cael.,75).

   Besides formation and the love for Christ, an essential element to live celibacy is the passion for God’s Kingdom, which means the ability to work diligently and without sparing any effort to disseminate the love for Christ and his message. We must add, that in order to live celibacy the priest must be a man of prayer, both personal and community. Daily celebration of the Eucharist, the “lectio divina”, that is, praying and reading of the Bible, especially the Gospels, divine of integral Hours, adoration of the Eucharistic, frequent confession, devoted and caring relations to Holy Mary, reciting of the rosary, spiritual exercises, are some means and signs of love, which if lacking, risks being replaced by surrogates, sometimes vile, such as the search of a vain personal exterior image, career, money and sexuality.

   The subject of priest celibacy is a field where the Bishop’s fatherhood must be completely committed towards his presbyters. The priest’s conscious reasons for celibacy required by the Latin Church, its Christological, Eschatological and Ecclesiastical significance must always be renewed. The Church teaches that celibacy is a gift, a charisma, which God gives to some of his men-disciples and women-disciples, both for consecrated life and priestly life. The Latin Church requires this charisma from priesthood candidates. It is for them a Canonical law, however in its deep nature it must be acknowledged as something more than a canonical duty, but as a gift of God that the Bishop is able to distinguish in the candidates to the orders, contrariwise he must not ordain them. Experience, however, demonstrates that there are some priests who subsequently become unfaithful to celibacy. Perhaps, since they never have received this charisma and during the seminar formation a judgement mistake occurred. The latter should have never been ordained. There are also others who received the charisma but for different reasons and circumstances have lost it.

   Experience shows that the loss of celibacy charisma often occurs due to a lack of spirituality, which leads to a weakening of faith, until it is completely lost, thus, the disappearance of the true meaning of celibacy for the love of God’s kingdom. Furthermore, when analyzing the current post-modern society, and other traditional cultures in some countries, we must admit they do not promote understanding and the deep meaning of priest celibacy. On the contrary, they are adverse, and sometimes go as far as deride it. This shows the great need to help presbyters understand the meaning of their celibacy and apply it in our modern world. The Bishop, therefore, must closely accompany his presbyters and support them in this situation.

   During the current Apostle Paul year, we must recall the example of Paul’s fatherly relationship to Timothy and Titus. It can serve as an inspiration in the relationship of the Bishop with his presbyters. Paul, in his First Letter to Timothy, calls him “my true son in the faith” (1Tim 1,2) and tells him: “Timothy, my child, I entrust to you this command, which is in accordance with the words of prophecy spoken in the past about you. Use this words as weapons in order to fight well and keep your faith and a clear conscience.” (1Tim 1, 18-19). “You, man of God […], strive for righteousness, godliness, faith, endurance and gentleness. Run your best in the race of faith, and win eternal life for yourself; for it was this life that God called you when firmly professed your faith before many witnesses ” (1Tim 6,11-12). In the Second Letter, Paul’s fatherly heart full of emotion turns to Timothy saying: “I give thanks to God […], as I remember you always in my prayers night and day. I remember your tears, and I want to see you very much, so that I may be filled with joy […]. For this reason I remind you to keep alive the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love and self-control. Do not be ashamed, the, of witnessing for our Lord; neither be ashamed of me, a prisoner for Christ’s sake. Instead, take your part in suffering for the Good News, as God gives us strength for it” (2Tim 1,34; 6-8).

   Paul also calls Titus “my true son” (Tit 1,4) and strongly recommends him: “You must teach what agrees with sound doctrine” (Tit, 2,1); “teach these things and use your full authority as you encourage and rebuke your hearers. Let none of them look down on you!” (Tit 2,15).

   The Apostle Paul’s fatherly expressions to Timothy and Titus help us see our priests as true sons, who await our prayers, examples, encouragement, support, steady and wise orientation, understanding, true love.

   Dearest Brothers Bishops, allow me to still add, in a few word, some aspects of the presbyter life that deserve the Bishops’ special attention. First of all, presbyters spirituality. Its importance is based on the fact that vocation and presbyter’s ministry can be understood only starting from the faith in Jesus Christ and His mission in the world. Only within Jesus Christ’s horizon we find the true light to understand the presbyterate. A vocation and ministry born from Jesus Christ, thus, participating in Christ’s Pastoral salvation mission. Thereby, we are truly within God’s mystery and His project of salvation of the human race. From the very beginning, this shows the presbyter’s personal and ministerial relationship with Jesus Christ and its renewed configuration with Him, the Good Shepherd, through the works of the Spirit. The quoted text of the Gospel according to Mark on the Twelve’s vocation clearly reads: “Then Jesus went up a hill and called to himself the men he wanted. They came to him, and he chose twelve, whom he named apostles. “I have chosen you to be with me, “ he told them. “I will also send you out to preach, and you will have the authority to drive out demons”.(Mc 3,13-14). Thus, the presbyter, who participates to the apostolic ministry, is called to be a special disciple of the Lord: “To be with Him”. This is the core of disciples and presbyters spirituality.

   We all know that without a deep spirituality no priest will be happy in his vocation and mission. He will not find a meaningful reason to carry on with his mission. Then, when we consider that priests must live a state of celibacy, we understand even more the need for a deep, sound, steady and mature spirituality.

   Another aspect in the life and ministry of presbyters, which is today ever more important, is its missionary activity. Today the Church is strongly aware of missionary urgency, not only as a mission “ad gentes”, but also as a specific missionary evangelization in countries where the Church has been established for centuries. Involving once again, through the Christian kerygma preaching, our baptized who for various reasons have drawn away from the ecclesiastical community life. Getting in touch with them means going towards them, visiting them where they live or work. As Pope Benedict XVI said to the Brazilian Bishops: “There is a need to engage in apostolic activity as a true mission in the midst of the Catholic Church’s flock […], promote methodical evangelization aimed at personal and communal fidelity to Christ. No effort should be spared in seeking those Catholics who have fallen away and those who know little or nothing of Jesus Christ. [..] In this work of evangelization the ecclesiastic community should clearly be marked by pastoral initiatives, especially sending missionaries, lay or religious, to homes on the outskirts and in the interior, to enter into a dialogue with everyone in a spirit of understanding, sensitivity and charity. On the other hand, if the persons they encounter are living in poverty, it is necessary to help them, as the first Christian communities did, by practising solidarity and making them feel truly loved. The poor living in the outskirts of the cities or the countryside need to feel that the church is close to them, providing for their most urgent needs, defending their rights and working with them to build a society founded on justice and peace. The Gospel is addressed in a special way to the poor, and the Bishop modelled on the Good Shepherd, must be practically concerned with offering them the divine consolation of the faith, without overlooking their need for “material bread”. As I wished to stress in the Encyclical Deus caritas est, ”the church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the sacraments and the word” (n. 22) (n.3). We must not forget that only a good disciple can be a good missionary.

Considering the current missionary urgency, the Congregation for the Clergy will dedicate its next Plenary Assembly, next March, to the topic of Presbyters- Missions.

   Finally, I would like to point out ongoing presbyters formation, which also includes spiritual formation. The Church continues to stress the need for permanent presbyter formation. In the Directory for the pastoral ministry of bishops (2004), the Congregation for Bishops reads: “The Bishop should educate his priests of every age and condition to fulfil their duty of ongoing formation and he should ensure due provision for this”; furthermore : “The bishop should consider the annual retreat a primary and essential element in the ongoing formation of his priests. It should be arranged in such a way that each one has time for an authentic and personal encounter with God and for reflection on his personal life and ministry.” (n.83). The Encyclical Pastores Gregis (2003), of Pope John Paul II, reads: “The Bishop’s special affection for his priest is demonstrated by his accompanying them as a father and brother in the fundamental stages of their ministerial life, starting with their first steps in the pastoral ministry. The formation of priests remains essential and represents for all a kind of “vocation within a vocation”, since in its different and complementary aspects it is aimed at helping priests to live and minister after the example of Jesus.” (n.47). Today, more than ever, permanent formation is necessary in every sector of society, especially in the priesthood ministry committed in transforming in Christ all human realities, in instilling the faith and evangelization to different cultures. Getting to know the evangelization reality requires a constant cultural and theological update.


   Concluding, I would like to congratulate the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for having organized this seminar and would also like to thank you my dearest Brother Bishops, for your patience and attention. You are the Fathers of our priests. They love you and will love you even more if they experience your love. This love comes from God, it is a gift from the Holy Spirit, and must be included in our prayer and lived in faith. God bless you and give you happiness in your important and beautiful Episcopal Ministry. Good luck! Thank you!

Rome, September 13, 2008.

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes

Emeritus Archbishop of São Paulo

Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy


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