In these final days of the Year for Priests, I would like to speak of the priest’s ministry of governing, in the name of Christ, the flock entrusted to his care. Authority, in the Christian understanding, is a service to the true, ultimate good of the person, which is our salvation in Christ; exercised in the Lord’s name, it is an expression of the constant presence and care of the Good Shepherd. The spiritual authority conferred in Holy Orders should be matched by the priest’s interior fidelity to his pastoral mission and his personal readiness to follow obediently the lead of Christ. Understood in the light of faith, this authority, while involving the exercise of power, remains a service to the building up of the Church in holiness, unity and truth. Christ’s power was expressed in the washing of feet, and his kingship by the wood of the Cross; so too, the priestly ministry of governance must be expressed in pastoral charity. I ask all of you to support your priests in their ministry of leading men and women to God, bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel and its message of hope. In a special way I also ask you to pray for my own ministry of governance in the Church, and for the spiritual fruitfulness of the celebrations at the conclusion of the Year for Priests.
I welcome all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Australia, India, Barbados, Canada and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke Almighty God’s blessings of joy and peace!