Cardinal Hummes' Letter to Priests: "What a
Mission! What an 'Amoris Officium!'"
VATICAN CITY, JANUARY. 26, 2007.- Here is the letter to priests sent
Wednesday by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, the new prefect of the
Congregation for Clergy. The letter is available on the dicastery's Web
* * *
Greetings from His Eminence
Claudio Cardinal Hummes
My dear brother Priests,
I have felt a desire to address a cordial greeting to you, even if only
through our Internet site.
I have been in Rome for a brief time, called by our beloved Pope
Benedict XVI to cooperate with him in the service of love toward the
priests, deacons and catechists of the Church.
In the first instance, you know that I must offer a deferential note of
gratitude to Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, my immediate
predecessor. It is thanks to his vision that I can now entrust my words
to the mysterious paths of the Internet.
He has been a true friend of priests. He has carried you in his heart
as a pastor; he has prayed for you; he has loved you.
Dear friends, it now falls on me to carry you in my heart, to pray for
you, and to love you.
I cannot hide that I still feel like of a "novice." I have also had a
bit of nostalgia on leaving São Paulo in Brazil. But, like
Abraham, I trust in my Lord and God. I am here to be a bishop for you
and a priest with you.
To serve priests! What a mission! What an "amoris officium!"
We are bearers of a specific identity that constantly characterizes us
in our existence and in our activity. We are consecrated and
incorporated into the activity of Christ. The gestures and the words of
Jesus become re-actualized in time and in history to elicit in those
who fulfill them "the same sentiments of Christ" and the same effects
The Church, in conferring the sacrament of orders, ontologically
constitutes the priest as an "alter Christus," or as some say, an "ipse
Christus"; and it establishes him as a minister of the word and as a
minister of the prophetic action and pastoral love of Christ. His
function, therefore, is not to exhaust himself exclusively in the
dimension of worship, but to fulfill himself in the prophetic dimension
by proclaiming the word and in the pastoral dimension by being a guide
for the community.
Among the beautiful expressions of the Second Vatican Council is the
following statement, which synthesizes the functions of the priest
while delineating his identity: "Priests, while engaging in prayer and
adoration, or preaching the word, or offering the Eucharistic sacrifice
and administering the other sacraments, or performing other works of
the ministry for men, devote all this energy to the increase of the
glory of God and to man's progress in the divine life" ("Presbyterorum
Dear brothers, we are proud and joyful of our priestly identity. We are
proud to be priests.
It is true, ours is not an easy mission. But united to Christ the
eternal High Priest, and with Mary, Mother of the first Priest and of
all priests, we will always be mindful of giving testimony to the hope
that is within us to our numerous brothers and sisters who, even today,
long for the way, the truth and the life.
From the Vatican, Jan. 24, 2007
Memorial of St. Francis de Sales
Claudius Cardinal Hummes
Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy