My dear brothers in the priesthood,
I thought to send you special greetings today on the Memorial of St John Mary Vianney, the blessed Curé of Ars, who has long been honoured as the Patron Saint of priests.
Let me praise the priestly holiness of St. John Mary Vianney as an example for priests today. I note especially the saint’s devotion to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, his faithfulness to the ministry of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and his outstanding ability to touch the hearts and transform the lives of so many people.
In order to aspire to such holiness, we need to focus our gaze firmly on Jesus Christ. Christ is the only sure point of reference for us priests. Let me commend to you, therefore, the rich theology of the priesthood and of priestly ministry in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and in the post-conciliar Magisterium of the Popes. This teaching draws upon the continuous Tradition of Catholic faith, and presents the priest in bold lines as standing along with and in the forefront of the People of God in the person of Christ the Head and Shepherd of his Church.
I firmly believe that we priests need to be convinced that our ordination has conferred on us the gift of a unique configuration to Christ. This unique configuration to Christ does not make of us a clerical caste, but an order and a brotherhood of priests whose lives of prayer, obedience, celibacy and service, and whose ministry of word and sacrament, are the foundation and expression of our spiritual fatherhood of our people and of effective evangelisation.
I hope that in these strange days of the Covid-19 pandemic, this brief reflection may help to inspire you to continue to dedicate yourself to your priestly ministry. For the sacrifice of your life for Christ and his Church, I thank you from my heart.
Yours devotedly in Christ
Archbishop of Glasgow