When the virtue of love is studied, according to St. Thomas Aquinas,
it consists, among other virtues, in:
Some have called fraternal correction “tough love.” Religious orders have used it as one of the building stones for maintaining a community spirit. Spiritual writers would tell us that fraternal correction not only is good for practicing the virtue of humility, but for making spiritual progress.
Recently, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe came out with a new code of conduct for priests that encourages them to “use fraternal correction” to help fellow priests overcome personal problems hindering their ministry. The code, which spells out fraternal correction in the concrete, was approved by Archbishop Michael Sheehan. Here are some of the statements found in it.
"Fraternal correction is important in any situation in which we perceive that a fellow priest is in any danger because of personal habits, relationships or dereliction."
"Fraternal correction in a direct and uncompromising way can be difficult, yet it is proof of a deep commitment to loving each other in truth and courage," it said.
"We may say that ministry to our fellow priests is one of our highest priorities."
Mentoring by an older, more experienced priest is important because it can help young priests "become more confident and develop priestly, personal skills," said the code.
"This friendship with a priestly mentor can lead to rewarding and shared growth which will benefit everyone affected by the priests."
Referring to the church's child sex abuse crisis, which first surfaced in 2002, the code said priests "will strive to live chastity and celibacy to the full, guarding against any word, deed or suggestion which would be a source of scandal."
The code especially warned against "the dangers posed by pornography and especially Internet and televised pornography."
The code urged priests to avoid any behavior that could be considered sexual harassment. "We will strive never to misuse our authority or position to engage in behavior that is in any way verbally, emotionally, sexually or physically abusive."
It noted that ministry to children and young people "is often part of priestly ministry," but said special precautions should be taken to avoid "being alone with children and youth, except for situations of ministry in which this is necessary." When being alone is necessary a responsible adult should be nearby.
"We will never offer alcohol or drugs to minors. We will never invite or allow overnight stays of minors in our rectories or other domiciles of ours, unless the minor is a family relation and is staying with the permission of or in the company of a parent or guardian."