success stories

Posted June 14, 2003

The Bonds of Priesthood

Father Murnion/NFPC
Origins May 29, 2003, Vol. 33:NO.3

"The plausibility of our preaching, the integrity of our ministry and the fulfillment of our orders depends on our love for one another," Father Philip Murnion said in May 8 remarks to the convention in Kansas City, Mo., of the National Federation of Priests' Councils upon receiving its President's Award.

"I mean love in its practical expressions," he said, adding that he was "not calling for a closing of ranks against all others or claiming the kind of clerical privilege which got us into the present predicament."

Murnion said, "I have found that typically those who are priests' priests, who look after their brother priests, are also the best of people's priests. Their love knows no borders."

Murnion, who is battling colon cancer, is director of the National Pastoral Life Center, a New York-based research and resource center. He discussed the relationship of bishops and priests, expressing concern that action at the U.S. bishops' June 2002 meeting in Dallas "conveyed the impression that the bishops were prepared to sacrifice priests' rights."

He said, "In broader terms, the relationship between priests and their bishops or superior needs careful consideration, of not renegotiation and perhaps new legislation."

Murnion also discussed standards for the priesthood, suggesting that priests might "play an active role with their individual bishops and superiors and with the conference of bishops as well as with one another in clarifying and supporting the qualities needed in preparation and performance of priestly ministry."

Excerpts from Murnion's talk:

"If ever we needed a reminder that the life of each priest affects every priest, the last year and a half more than provided such a reminder. Yet we seem to be undergoing increasing individuation of priests, leaving each to his own life and ministry, mission and community, spirituality and development."

"Respect for priesthood increasingly is earned, not presumed. Though the priesthood still validates the individual priest, more and more each priest must authenticate the priesthood."