Q2: Is it your view that the nature of the priesthood is unknown or missunderstood by many priests? Is mandatory 'continuing priestly education' the answer?

Highlighting both the priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood should actually strengthen both; they are not mutually exclusive or in any way opposed to one another.

When our particular calls within the Church are not given their proper distinctions, the Church suffers. St. Paul rightly reminds us of this with his beautiful analogy of how the Body of Christ is made up of diverse members working together for the good of the whole.

The laity and the priest are not in competition but complement each other’s particular calling.

There is a danger of what John Paul II called the “clericalisation of the laity and the laicisation of the clergy” when distinctions are not made in the life of the Church — again, different does not mean better. Clericalism is not what happens when one has a clear identity of who they are, but rather when it is lived in such a way that is not in the service of the faithful.

The priest should not be embarrassed to wear the roman collar and be called “father,” for this is not clericalism, but he is to do so in charity and humility as a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

So in response to your remark about younger clergy — especially those who, in their youthful zeal, may come across too strong — let us be patient with them as they mature in the priesthood. It takes a while for the ontology to catch up with the psychology.

To young priests who may fall into this category, I would simply say, be men of prayer with the love of Christ as your guiding light, and pray for your own deepening conversion. One can have all of the right answers, but if they are presented “without love, you are a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” as St. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13.

Thus we do not deny the ministerial priesthood; we live it inside and out. If the priest lives his calling with humility and service as the driving force, it is more a form of asceticism than of clericalism. He is a visible sign of the radical commitment of the priestly life.

Proper knowledge and integration of the sacramental character into the priestly life and ministry are fundamental for priests to be the men the Church needs them to be.