The suspicions about his life that priests have to endure sometimes go as far as public insult.

Not anyone says it, but someone who, from 2010 until his resignation due to age last January, was the Church’s highest authority in appointing bishops – and one of Pope Francis’ trusted men –: Cardinal Ouellet.

Now he has just visited the Ecclesiastical University of San Dámaso, in Madrid, to disseminate, in collaboration with the Parisian Center for Research in Anthropology and Vocations, what for some years has been his great personal mission: to reinforce the identity of the priesthood in a time as complex as the present. And Aleteia has spoken to him. –

Loneliness, overwork, discouragement, misunderstanding… Being a priest has never been easy, but it seems that our society makes it particularly difficult. What are the great crosses that priests have to carry today? I believe that today the three great crosses of priests are three: religious indifference, pastoral failure and suspicions about their lives, which sometimes go as far as public insult. – Explain them in more detail… Religious indifference, because many baptized people live as if God did not exist, and that makes it more difficult to find meaning in their lives. Pastoral failure, because pastoral proposals usually receive limited and disappointing responses after many efforts. And the suspicions about his life, even to the point of public insult, because that leads priests to solitude and to have a more tense relationship with the authorities, since they can feel the pain of the measures taken by the bishops and the generalizations of the media. “The pastoral proposals of priests often receive limited and disappointing responses after many efforts” – And do you think that priests today feel accompanied by the laity in these specific needs and wounds? Here is a question that seems interesting to me, and that is not very present in today’s Catholic culture: do the laity have anything to do with the priesthood? It may seem not, because it is not about them. But, in reality, the raison d’être of the priesthood of priests is service to the priesthood of the baptized. And this priesthood of the baptized implies that they participate in the spread of the Spirit of the Gospel through the testimony of their faith, their hope and their charity. According to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the laity are part of the Church as mediator of salvation in Jesus Christ and participate in the consecration of the world. Therefore, that is a question that should be asked by the laity. – Cardinal Ouellet, you have spoken about the attacks that priests sometimes suffer. One of the causes of these attacks that many innocent priests suffer today is that they are associated with brothers who have committed crimes of abuse. You yourself have suffered a peculiar public accusation in this regard, and you have not only defended your innocence, but have also announced that you would sue your accuser to wash her honor. Without going into the judicial details, how are you living, from faith, this process? At this time it is not possible for me to answer your question. – Let’s change third, then. In recent years he has been carrying out an intense activity to talk about the priesthood of the 21st century. What should characterize the priests of our days? It is something that the Pope already defined in February 2022: the priest must be, first of all, close to God, through his prayer; close to his bishop, in a filial relationship; and close to his confreres, in a fraternal relationship. Finally, he must be close to his people through his pastoral charity.

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