ASIA/IRAQ - Patriarch Sako to priests: priesthood is a mission, not business

Monday, 8 July 2013

Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - In recent years, the weakness in the management of the central authority, the vacatio of several episcopal sees, the lack of security and the state of perpetual socio-political emergency experienced by Iraq "have also had an impact on the identity of priests and their spirituality, "creating a " situation that cannot continue" and must be tackled resolutely, rediscovering the source of grace and the true face of the vocation and mission of priests. It is a strong and direct appeal that is contained in a letter that the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Raphael I Sako addressed to the priests of his Church to urge everyone to testify in facts the very nature of priestly ministry and service to the brethren, for the salvation of all.
In the letter, which is dated July 3 - day in which we celebrate the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle - the Chaldean Patriarch expressed his appreciation for "the majority" of the priests of his Church, expressing gratitude for their work. At the same time, His Beatitude Sako exposes situations and dynamics that must be corrected without delay. "Some priests" warns the Patriarch "have turned their parishes in little empires." Others "have left Iraq without the bishop’s permission, have applied for political asylum or have left their church and joined another Church. Some do not celebrate Mass except on Saturdays and Sundays. Some do not preach or, when they do, they turn their homilies into insults or requests for money". Priesthood - repeats the Patriarch, also echoing Pope Francis’ recent calls - "is a mission, not a profession or a business." The priest "is the human lung which purifies the sins with the air of Divine Grace" and "his success in the work is the result of the infinite power of God and not the result of his individual performance".
In the recent Synodal Assembly - held in Baghdad from June 5 to 10 - the Chaldean bishops, in order to stop this phenomena also denounced by the Patriarch in his letter, reiterated that no priest can leave his diocese without the the bishop’s permission. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 08/07/2013).