View all Ask a Priest |
“Ask a Priest: Shouldn’t We Love Priests and Bishops?”
Q: I was talking with a few teens in catechesis class about a common problem in our parish. People who go for the sacrament of reconciliation, once they see Father X or Father Y isn’t there, prefer to go another time. Or they show disappointment when it turns out that Father A or Father B will celebrate Mass. Or there are people who offend their bishop and don’t love them. You don’t need to like everybody, even priests, but if we need to love one another, what can we say about the bishops? To paraphrase Ignatius of Antioch, Where the bishop is, there is the Church. I told the teens, “You may not like a bishop, but you do need to love him.” I may have been too strong. Here in my diocese in Brazil, we have a great bishop. I love him, but not everyone else does. I see bishops who make bad decisions, but the only option is to pray for their conversion — and ours, of course. Does that make sense? – Fernando
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It sounds as though you are doing a great job with the young people.
Respect for the clergy and for bishops is very important, even if they have their shortcomings (we all do).
This might be a good teaching moment for your students. You can remind them about the very nature of love. It’s an act of the will, not the feelings. Good feelings can help you love, and bad feelings can make love harder, but love is deeper than feelings.
You touch on this when you distinguish between their liking a bishop and loving a bishop.
It might be good to point out the example of a mom changing her sick baby’s diapers at 3 a.m. Though she might not “feel” like losing sleep, she tends to the infant out of a deep sense of love, happy or grouchy.
The love we show to clergy and bishops owes in part to their office. The mission of priests and bishops comes from Christ. They are God’s chosen instruments.
A telling example of the respect due to God’s chosen leaders is found in the Old Testament, when David refrains from attacking Saul. “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, to lay a hand on him, for he is the LORD’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:7).
It would be good to encourage the young people to treat clergy the way that they would treat their parents. Even if their parents aren’t perfect, the young people still owe them respect. This is pleasing to God.
Jesus himself respected authority — even Pilate’s.
Keep learning more with Ask a Priest
Got a question? Need an answer?
Today’s secular world throws curve balls at us all the time. AskACatholicPriest is a Q&A feature that anyone can use. Just type your question HERE, and you will get a personal response back from one of our priests at RCSpirituality. You can ask about anything – liturgy, prayer, moral questions, current events… Our goal is simply to provide a trustworthy forum for dependable Catholic guidance and information. So go ahead and ask your question…