Friday, 18 September 2009

The Voice of... Blessed Pius IX (Part VI)

On 20th January, 1858, in the first of two Encyclicals on the Clergy in that year, Bl. Pius IX issued an Encyclical on Priests and the Care of Souls, entitled Cum Nuper addressed to the Archbishops, Bishops and other Ordinaries of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies:

"5. First and foremost, keeping always in mind the precepts of the Apostle, be most careful not to lay hands prematurely on anyone and be extremely cautious in conferring sacred orders. Never, from a misplaced sense of obligation, partisanship, or favor, join to the clergy and promote to ecclesiastical grades and orders those who, not having even minimally the gifts required by the sacred canons, should be totally rejected from sacred ministry. He who does not fear to initiate into sacred orders those who are unworthy inflicts great harm on the Church. Therefore, your first concern is to strictly follow the prescriptions of the sacred canons. Carefully examine and scrutinize each candidate's origin, training, talents, character, and teaching. Ordain only those outstanding individuals who can truly benefit your dioceses. If they earnestly reject all things which are forbidden to clerics and which never become them, they may be an example to the faithful in "word, speech, charity, faith, and chastity."

"6. Moreover, examine most intently the conduct, honesty, piety, knowledge, and prudence of those to whom the care and direction of souls is to be committed. Be ever vigilant that pastors fulfill their office zealously, wisely and holily. They should never fail to feed the Christian people entrusted to them by means of preaching the divine word, of administering the sacraments, and of dispensing of the multiple grace of God. They should diligently imbue young people especially and the uneducated with the mysteries and teachings of our divine religion and form them in all piety and virtue. If pastors do not fulfill their duty, religion and public life are damaged, morals are perverted, Christian discipline weakens, the exercise of religious worship declines, and all sorts of vices overwhelm people.

"7. Moreover, you must be especially watchful that young people of both sexes be educated in fear of the Lord and His law and that they be trained in moral integrity. Accordingly, diligently inspect both private and public schools; see that your young people are free from all danger and that they receive a sound and completely Catholic education. Stretch, therefore, every fiber of your pastoral zeal to obtain this goal, since you know that the prosperity of the spiritual and civil communities depends greatly on the proper education of the youth. You know also the manifold evils by which, in these iniquitous times, the enemies of God and man attempt to pervert and corrupt the innocence of youth."

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