By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy
ON OCTOBER 6-27, the Church in Latin American will hold the Amazon Synod to “reconsider the notion that the exercise of jurisdiction (power of government) must be linked in all areas (sacramental, judicial, administrative) and in a permanent way to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.” It plans to “revise” the Church’s position on the status and role of the clergy.
On August 6, LifeSiteNews reported that Bishop Marian Eleganti, the auxiliary bishop of Chur, Switzerland, warned against “destruction of the priesthood and of the sacred character of the Church”. He said the priesthood is not a “profession like any other” with the three-fold mission of the priest: “to govern, to preach, and to sanctify. Any attempt at separating these three offices of the priesthood would lead to the destruction of the priesthood and of the sacred character of the Church.”
He was responding to the working document on the separation of a priestly function that “could lead to the possibility of women governing a parish while the priest’s duty would be limited to celebrating Mass and administering the Sacraments.”
“The power of ordination (potestas ordinis) and the judicial power (potestas jurisdictionis) may not be separated,” Fr. Menke, retired professor of dogmatics at the University of Boon, also told LifeSiteNews.
The priest is “not a social worker, not a psychologist, nor a manager, nor a mediator,” and through ordination, the priest “receives something that stems from above, and not from below, from God Himself who calls him and chooses him” and “empowers him for a three-fold office which then sets him apart from all the other baptized people.
“Thereby, the priest receives something sacred – the rite of ordination – and then passes on to others something sacred, which stems from God alone and which no one else can give in the Church.”
The three priestly offices that come with ordination – to govern, to preach, and to sanctify – “cannot be split apart,” the Swiss prelate explains, “so that the priest would only…stand at the altar,” and someone else (male or female) preaches and yet another one (male or female) would govern.
“This is at heart the destruction of the priesthood,” he says, and “constitutes a “dismantling that must stop. He must be that which he is – from God by virtue of his ordination where he receives a special character which cannot ever be removed. That is why he is a sacred figure. This is the truth about the priesthood.”
Bishop Eleganti calls upon Catholics to give back to priests this “sacrality,” to accept this “difference,” so that “he truly is a man of God and so that he also meets us as a man of God.” He reminds us that we should not regard a priest as “something profane, purely sociological or psychological” and insisted that this sacredness of the priesthood “has nothing to do with clericalism. On the contrary, a priest must receive his ordination with humility and with an awareness of his own sinfulness. Thus, a priest may not elevate himself, but at the same time, he also should not deny himself.”
Furthermore, Bishop Eleganti explains that a priest may not effectively deny his ordination, for “he has been taken into possession by God, and he acts in the person of Christ, the head of the Church, the Bridegroom of the Church.”
His mission is “to help reconcile man with God and thus the priest has a mandate and authority which no one else has: to forgive sins and to speak validly, in the person of Jesus Christ, the words of consecration, so that what then happens is not anymore something human, but something Divine.
“Such a change of character and of being also happened with the priest at the moment of his ordination, just as there is a change during the consecration of bread and wine at Holy Mass.
“Let us be careful not to split apart and to destroy and merely to functionalize the priesthood in its integrity. Neither ought we create a ‘priesthood lite,’ There is not a priesthood lite that the electrician could exercise after ordination for the sake of celebrating Mass for a specific parish, and who would not have the fullness of the priesthood to govern, to sanctify, and to preach. It is about the whole priesthood, indivisible, with all three offices which cannot be split up into [different] functions.”