Juridical Manifestations of the Presbyterium

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Chapter 4: Reinforcements of the Presbyterium

Since all clerics are working for the same purpose, namely the building up of the body of Christ, they are to be united with one another in the bond of brotherhood and prayer. They are to seek to cooperate with one another, in accordance with the provisions of particular law. (Can. 275 §1)1
Beside the fraternal charity that is to exist among priests, there are many juridical institutions by which "provisions of particular law" can build up the presbyterium, "various modalities... which contribute to the exercise of the presbyteral co-responsibility".2 Among the most important of these "institutions which converge to reinforce the presbyterium", as Corecco3 calls them, are the common life of priests (Can. 280, CCEO Can. 376); associations of priests (Can. 278, CCEO Can. 391); meetings of priests, including continuing formation (Can. 279, CCEO Can. 372) and retreats (Can. 276 §1, 4°, CCEO Can. 369 §2); and concelebration (Can. 902, CCEO Can. 700).

Common Life

For the better ordering of the care of souls priests are strongly recommended to live in common, especially those attached to the same parish. This on one hand is helpful to their apostolate work, and on the other gives to the faithful an example of charity and unity. (CD 30 §1)4
The church commends the common life because it has a long experience of the advantages it can bring to the life of clergy. Common life often began as a desire to imitate the life earliest Christian communities, where "those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Act 4:32). Although St. Eusebius of Vercelli (283-371) and St. Ambrose (340-397) were among the first to practice a common life among their clergy, the most influential to do so was St. Augustine (354-430), who established a "monesterium clericorum in which his clergy lived together."5
Succeeding Valerius as Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine transformed the episcopal residence into the first strictly clerical house according to his ideal of common life.
St. Augustine did not impose the obligation of common life upon the country or village clergy, and although he imposed it upon the cathedral and city clergy, they seemed to have accepted the obligation willingly. With St. Augustine, they believed that the common life would assist in correcting abuses and promoting the welfare of the active apostolate.6
St. Augustine describes the life and behavior of his clergy in two sermons (355 and 356) on "The Conduct of the Clergy".7 In effect, common life with a sharing of possessions became the general rule for the clergy of his diocese.

Another juridical manifestation of common life developed from the need for greater priestly stability. Each priest to be ordained had a "title" or benefice, his assignment to some church, chapel, or monastery. Thus, when two or more clerics were assigned to the same church, the custom of living together in a house attached to or nearby the church had its beginning. "In essence, the organization of a juridical mode of common life in the sixth and seventh centuries was principally characterized by a stable and permanent grouping of clerics into a community living in the same house."8

However, the movement toward a common life quickly approached that of religious life, envisioning an almost monastic rule for priests. As the chapters of canons developed, the community life of the other clergy waned.

As the Church entered the twelfth century, the distinction between canonical secular life and canonical regular life provided a clear choice. Those who wished to live in community under some form of rule could so choose... While common life among canon regulars flourished... by the end of the twelfth century [secular] common life all but disappeared.9
During the Middle Ages, ecclesiastical legislation on the subject of common life was virtually nonexistent. Indeed, the Council of Trent did not mention the topic, only making a call for a general restoration of the life, conduct and learning of clerics by returning to the teaching of earlier popes and councils.10 Despite this absence, after Trent many bishops and priests were inspired to speak, write and develop common life among the clergy.

First among these in creating priestly communities was St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584). "In his episcopal household he created a real community of priests, living according to a christian rule and performing the exercises of the spiritual life in common."11 He also founded the Oblates of St. Ambrose, an institute of diocesan (secular) priests.

Among the many others animated by a spirit and zeal for the priesthood and common life were: St. Philip Neri (1515-1595), founder of the Oratorians, a community of diocesan priests; St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1600) and his Society of Missionaries (Priests of the Mission) and Lazarists12; Cardinal Pierre de Berulle (1575-1629), founder of the French Oratorians, the Congregation of the Oratory of Jesus in Paris; Jean Jacques Olier (1608-1657) founder of the seminary and Society of St. Sulpice; St. John Eudes (1601-1680), and his Congregation of Jesus and Mary (the Eudists) for secular priests; and St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort (1673-1716), founder of the Company of Mary mission preachers.

These priests formed organizations of common life that grouped diocesan priests together into permanent unions.13 In this search for new forms specifically for the diocesan clergy, particular mention should be made of a less familiar name, Bartholomew Holzhauser (1613-1658). In 1640, in the diocese of Salzburg in Austria, he formed an institute of common life for diocesan priests.

The basis of Holzhauser's Institute was clerical common life. He hoped to offer to diocesan priests involved in the parochial ministry the benefits and means of spiritual perfection that common life was offering to members of religious orders without, at the same time, forming an order or religious congregation.14
Two points from his constitutions stand out. First was the importance of the sharing of property in common.15 Holzhauser considered this essential for full common life and effective ministry. This was not, however, a renunciation made under a solemn vow of poverty; one continued to retain ownership of patrimony and inheritance, while the revenue earned from the clergy's ministry and work became part of a common fund. The other crowning factor was Holzhauser's insistence upon obedience to the local bishop. "The decisive point for the structural framework of this community was its complete dependence on the Ordinary, without any exception."16

While Holzhauser include the norm of common living within his Constitutions, his other innovation was not to exclude the possibility of common life without actual cohabitation.

Holzhauser's program of common life was directed principally to the parochial clergy where, in many instances, cohabitation was impossible. Because of this Holzhauser associated himself more closely with the various associations of priests that emerged following the Council of Trent.17
Holzhauser's Institute received universal acclaim, spreading rapidly throughout almost all of Europe. For many years the Institute flourished, but toward the end of the eighteenth century began to diminish and by the middle of the nineteenth century was extinct. The exact cause of its failure is uncertain, but perhaps conflicts with local bishops were generated when it became an international community.18 This does not mean his Constitutions should be abandoned or forgotten, as their spirit continues in many priestly associations, which will be examined shortly.

Recalling this rich history, Pope St. Pius X, in his 1908 Apostolic Exhortation to clergy, expressed hope and joy that priest might decide to live in common.

The annals of the Church show that at times when priests generally lived in a form of common life, this association produced many good results. Why might not one re-establish in our own day something of the kind, with due attention to differences of country and priestly duties? Might not one justifiably hope, and the Church would rejoice at it, that such an institution would yield the same good results as formerly?19
The 1917 Code of Canon Law urged the clergy to live a common life by sharing the same house and table. "The custom of common life among clerics is praiseworthy and to be favored so that, where it exists, to the degree possible, it should be preserved." (CIC 1917 Can. 134)20 It especially recommended this for the priest cooperators of the same parish (CIC 1917 Can. 476 §5).21
However, where this was not already required by custom or particular law, the diocesan bishop could not impose it... in many of the newer countries, e.g. Canada, and the United States, it has been the custom, which was often incorporated in diocesan statutes.22
Following his namesake, Pius XII also recommended the common life, particularly for younger priests, priests of the same parish, and even priests of nearby parishes, because of its many "great advantages":
If the practice of community life brings with it some sacrifice, there is, however, no doubt that great advantages derive from it. In the first place it daily nourishes the spirit of charity and zeal among the priests. Then, it gives an admirable example to the faithful of the detachment of the ministers of God from their own interests and from their families. Finally, it is a testimony of the scrupulous care with which they safeguard priestly chastity.23
Since the Second Vatican Council, there is an enormous wealth of magisterial statements encouraging, emphasizing and motivating the common life of priests. Presbyterorum Ordinis listed the advantages of common life as promoting intellectual and spiritual life, aiding ministry and fighting loneliness.24 "In addition there is an expectation that priests will share their goods and help other priests who are in need."25 Pope Paul VI26 and the 1971 Synod encouraged community and association of life.27 The 1973 "Directory for Bishops" suggested common life to combat isolation and loneliness, especially for younger priests;28 and it sees advantages for a parish to have a pastor and at least one other priest that live in common.29 Pastores Dabo Vobis highly commended common life, not only as an advantage for the apostolate, but as an example of charity and unity.30

From these it is clear why the 1994 "Directory for Priests" states: "A manifestation of this communion is also the common life always supported by the Church, recently emphasized by the documents of Vatican Council II and of the successive Magisterium, and applied in many Dioceses with positive results."31 As a good summary, the Congregation for Evangelization offers a reflection on community life.

Community life, based on the one priesthood [presbyterium] and as an expression of fraternity, is strongly recommended by the Church for diocesan priests. It favors joint apostolic work and especially first evangelization, which experience has shown to be difficult if undertaken by individuals. Bishops should study, therefore, how to promote community life, according to the possibilities available and the models offered by local culture, trying to overcome understandable organizational difficulties and possibly some psychological reticence. It should be remembered that community life cannot be improvised, but requires sensitization and preparation already in the seminary.
When several priests are employed in the same parish, it is advisable that they live in the same house and form a single community. It is also useful to form communities of priests who work in different but neighboring parishes. If possible, no priest, especially if he is young should remain for a long time on his own. However, as pastoral reasons in many areas oblige priests to live alone in their parish, the bishop should try to help them develop a community spirit by organizing regular meetings, in small groups or at the diocesan level.32
The 1983 Code, almost identical to that of 1917, inserts this encouragement of priestly common life among the rights and duties of clerics. "Some manner of common life is highly recommended to clerics; where it exists, it is as far as possible to be maintained." (Can. 280)33 The Eastern law also calls for "praiseworthy common life" to be fostered, and adds some motivations: "so that they may be mutually helped in cultivating the spiritual and intellectual life and may be able to cooperate more effectively in the ministry." (CCEO Can. 376)34

While the above laws do not refer to any particular office or function being more or less suited community life, the code still holds that parish pastors and parochial vicars should have "some manner of common life in the parochial house" where it is possible (Can. 550 §2). The one exception explicitly mentioned as a just reason for such priests to live outside their parish boundaries is "in a house common to several priests" with the consent of the bishop (Cann. 533, 550 §1).35 This exception implements Christus Dominus 30, which for the first time extended the recommendation of common life "to priests who were not attached to the same parish, thus mitigating an overly strict interpretation of the law of residence."36

The contemporary concept of a parish requires that priests form a community in the strictest sense of the term. Living in common and sharing a common table is a great good, if it is possible to be attained ... The exchange of ideas and experiences, the desire to receive prudent advice, information concerning the life and work of priests - all these constitute frequent occasions for creating a parochial priestly community.37
In fact, even those not assigned to parish duties might profit from communal living. "This common life can perfectly exist among the parish priest and his parochial vicars or cooperators, among the rector of the seminary and the professors, among the diocesan Bishop and the officials of his Curia."38

These recommendations mean seminaries should form priests in ways that will prepare them to live and work as part of the presbyterium. Such formation must include the necessary virtues and proper understanding so that they are prepared to integrate into the clerical community, and even live a common life, after they leave the seminary.

Through the common life in the seminary, and by developing relationships of friendship and of association with others, they are to be prepared for the fraternal unity of the diocesan presbyterium, in whose service of the Church they will share. (Can. 245 §2)39
Likewise, as part of the ongoing formation of priests, education on the advantages and possibilities of common living would be very appropriate.

There are numerous arguments for community life of priests, "which go from freeing up time for prayer to the exchange of ideas and experiences, to help in moments of difficulty or crisis, to a wider availability for ministry."40

Communal living could provide better support for clerics experiencing difficulties such as illness of stress; a cleric would find a substitute ready at hand to fulfill ministerial needs while he was absent or impeded from his work; younger clerics could benefit from the wisdom and experience of their elders, and older clerics could benefit from the energy and fresh insights of the young.41
Thus the motives for common life are manifold. "The life in common of the clergy can constitute an incentive and a profitable exchange of information, as well as example."42 Perhaps the greatest reason is that it offers help to some of the greatest problems faced by priests: loneliness and celibacy. "Communal living among priests has the advantage of helping to promote their personal welfare as celibate individuals in need of fraternal support and of providing an atmosphere conducive to spiritual growth".43

The common life of priests is not intended to be another form of religious life, and should not be confused with it. "The diversity of forms must be encouraged according to the possibilities and practical situations, without necessarily emphasizing models proper to religious life."44 Priestly common life can be distinguished from that of religious, as it is different in its origin, purpose, and obligation.

In the case of clerics, the common life... comes from the particular communion among the priests rooted in the sacrament of Orders. Moreover, the concrete manifestations of this common life tend to form a help to priests for the development of their ministry and a support for their spiritual life. The sacramental foundation of this common life doesn't signify however that it is an essential consequence of the sacrament of Orders, therefore it does not constitute an obligation of secular clerics and is only recommended to them.45
The Council and Code allow freedom in the implementation of this eminently recommended discipline, which they have not imposed as required. In practice, particular circumstances may sometimes prevent living together under the same roof, yet there is still a broad flexibility in the different ways that priest can achieve "some manner of common life" (Can. 280). Presbyterorum Ordinis 8 suggests three possibilities: living together, sharing a common table, or at least frequent meetings. Common liturgical prayer such as the Liturgy of the Hours should also be added.
The legislator says quaedam vitae communis, signaling with this formulation an abstraction that asks to be concretized according to the diverse existential or pastoral singularities. Space is contained in this wide radius then, programming of common accord, the renewal of community of life, the shared table, periodic meetings, habitual living together, sincere conversation, joined prayer, etc.46
Clearly, common life is not solely the initiative of the presbyterium, as bishops also have a role in the promotion of community life, striving to help priests form a community spirit. Even if he cannot mandate it (in places where it has not been customary), he can encourage and suggest common life to his priests. He should readily grant permission for priests to live outside their parishes in a common house, unless of course this would harm their parish ministry.
The realization of community life among priests cannot be realized if it is not being contemplated in the diocesan structure willed by the bishop himself. Thus, the realization of the community life among priests depends on how a bishop responds to the recommendation given by canon 280. The same is true with the priestly associations. With their capacity and power to encourage, to promote, and to approve priestly associations (in accordance to canon 278), bishops can be likewise considered active subjects.47
Experience shows that for common life to be successful it cannot be improvised; rather, it needs some organization or rule, for example establishing a clear moderator or superior. The bishop can also help contribute in such areas.

Priestly Associations

Another important aspect of communion is the promotion of forms of association, whether of the more traditional kind or the newer ecclesial movements, which continue to give the Church a vitality that is God's gift and a true "springtime of the Spirit".48
As has already been seen, the common life of priests is often connected with priestly associations as a reinforcement of the presbyterium.
The universal fraternity that is proper to the ordo presbyterorum, is then concretized within the presbyterium in the hierarchical structure to which the specific priest belongs. Other manifestations of this fraternity are the priestly associations and the common life among clerics.49
The phenomenon of priestly associations is not new in the Church. The many priestly movements since Trent, mentioned above, clearly demonstrate this. Yet in the nineteenth century, a new trend emerged: "diocesan communities or associations without the obligation of cohabitation for the continual renewal of priestly holiness and effectiveness in the apostolate."50

Two French Bishops, Felix Dupanloup (1802-1878) and V. M. Lebeurier (1832-1918), were instrumental in forming an association of diocesan priests, following the spirit and norms of Holzhauser's Institute. The difference, however, was opening it to priests who could not join in the traditional common life; instead of physical cohabitation, it would be a spiritual or moral union. This would be entitled the Apostolic Union of Diocesan Priests of the Sacred Heart, constituted in 1862.51

The Apostolic Union was intended to create a moral community among the diocesan clergy for whom common life was either impossible or often difficult by reason of their pastoral obligations. By means of a common rule of life and monthly meetings the association aimed itself at combatting the loneliness of moral and physical isolation and the dangers of individualism.52
Its main principles include a uniform rule of life, regular meetings and spiritual conferences, and the submission of a monthly 'report' to the diocesan superior, which includes an accounting of one's performance of the rule and one's finances. While never negating the importance of traditional common life, the spiritual and practical value of the Apostolic Union as a priestly association was soon realized. It spread quickly throughout Europe and Christendom, and other similar associations would be based on it.

Pope Pius X gave strong praise to these new priestly associations, recalling his own membership in the Apostolic Union.53 He recalls their good results in history and sees them not only as a help in times of difficulty, but also a particular aid to learning and ministry.54 While the 1917 Code did not directly address priestly associations, the right and desirability of associations in general is not questioned, including clerics and religious (cf. CIC 1917 Can. 693 §4), as its advantages are obvious. Pope John XXIII also commended approved priestly associations as a means of perfection.55

"Vatican II has acknowledged the right of association not as a concession of authority but as a fundamental right of all the faithful, cleric and lay."56

Associations of priests are also to be highly esteemed and diligently promoted, when by means of rules recognized by the competent authority they foster priestly holiness in the exercise of the ministry through a suitable and properly approved rule of life and through brotherly help, and so aim at serving the whole order of priests. (PO 8)57
Herranz makes three conclusions from this conciliar text. First, even more than recognizing the right of association for clerics, it expresses the usefulness of associations and encourages them. Second, these associations are clearly distinguished from the presbyterium and presbyteral council, which are diverse realties not derived from the right of association.58 Third, the decree establishes that the statutes must be recognized by the competent authority (who grants a nihil obstat, not a juridical erection). "A Priestly Association, of whatever type it may be, is born and constituted by the free convergence of the will of the members: not as immediate consequence of a sacramental reality or of an act instituted by the ecclesiastical Hierarchy."59

Paul VI, quoted earlier, gives continued support for associations, seeing them as a way to encourage priestly holiness. The 1971 Synod of Bishops also continued the thought of Presbyterorum Ordinis that they "should be fostered", but always "in a spirit of ecclesial communion" which requires recognition by the competent ecclesiastical authority.60

The two codes recognize for secular clergy a full right to associate for ends suitable to the clerical state (Can. 278 §1, CCEO Can. 391). There is a preference for associations with four characteristics: those which "promote holiness in the exercise of their ministry", "foster the unity of the clergy with one another and with their Bishop", whose "statutes are recognized by the competent authority", and have a "suitable and well tried rule of life" for clerics (Can. 278 §2).61 Clerics must avoid associations incompatible with their clerical state or office (Can. 278 §3).62

The native right of all christian faithful to found and govern associations (Can. 215, CCEO Can. 18) belongs also to priests. Note that this includes not only public associations in the Church, but also private ones; however, it only applies to secular clerics, not religious.63 Because it specifically favors associations which encourage unity of diocesan clerics, "the Code gives a privileged position - although discretely - to the formation of associations within the presbyterium."64

The 1989 Pastoral Guide for mission churches encourages associations as a means to promote fraternity and unity in the presbyterium, foster spiritual, human and cultural development, and aid pastoral ministry.65 Pope John Paul II also see associations as spiritually enriching for both individuals and the whole presbyterium. He also recognizes the role of societies of apostolic life, priestly secular institutes, and new ecclesial movements that welcome priests into their associations.66

Another help can be given by priestly associations, in particular by priestly secular institutes - which have as their characteristic feature their being diocesan - through which priests are more closely united to their Bishop... All the forms of 'priestly fraternity' approved by the Church are useful not only for the spiritual life but also for the apostolic and pastoral life.67
The Congregation for Clergy recognizes the importance of associations and approved movements, which are appreciated for what they do for priests. Yet it especially esteems those associations with a "diocesan" character. "The help which must be given to priests in this field can find support in the different priestly associations which tend to form a truly diocesan spirituality."68

The fact that priestly associations are so highly esteemed is directly related to their purpose and finality: "to cultivate spiritual life, favor the ecclesiastical culture, exercise works of charity and compassion". In essence, associations should promoting priestly life, holiness, communion and ministry, helping priests to realize their proper identity and direct their activity "in full conformity with their sacramental consecration and their divine mission."69

Therefore, care is needed that priests establish associations for such purposes, and never like unions which become "adversarial groups that collectively represented the needs and wants of the diocesan priests to the bishop."70 "It is asked that the associations safeguard and favor the necessary communion with the Presbyteral Order and the Diocesan Presbyterium."71 In no way is the right of association ever opposed to the membership in the presbyteral order or presbyterium, as the presbyterate is not an association, and one always has a legitimate autonomy and personal liberty from the natural right to associate.72

Priestly associations that are congruent with their life and mission normally augment the communion among priests, thus reinforcing the diocesan presbyterium. Obviously, clerical religious institutes, societies of apostolic life, and national and international clerical associations do not form a presbyterium in only one diocese.73 These institutions do manifest, however, the special fraternity among priests, and therefore can reinforce the presbyterium when priests of a diocese join such an association.

As with common life, bishop's can have an active role, especially by supporting and approving private priestly associations, and founding public ones. Besides the types of priestly fraternities and associations already discussed for spiritual, intellectual and pastoral ends, a typical diocesan association could also be one by which the priests provide material assistance to one another, such as assistance for the sick or retired. Also common is an association for keeping the deceased members in the prayers of their brother priests.

While the Apostolic Union is one of the older and more widespread examples of an ecclesiastically approved priestly association, it is far from unique. Mention can be made of the Association of Priestly Perseverance, a sacerdotal association founded in 1868 at Vienna; the Pontifical Missionary Union of the Clergy founded by Blessed Paulo Manna (1872-1952); and the Priest Fraternity Jesus-Caritas, founded in France in 1952. Two popular confraternities at the start of the 20th century were the Priests' Eucharistic League established by St. Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868) to foster Eucharistic worship by priests, and the Priests' Communion League for priests to promote frequent and daily Communion.

Many recent ecclesial realities also promote association, as priests share a common bond through their involvement in their mission, such as the secular Institute of Jesus-Priest of Blessed James Alberione (1884-1971), the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross founded by St. Josemaria Escrivá (1902-1975), and Regnum Christi founded by Fr. Marcial Maciel (b. 1920). Other new movements also incorporate diocesan priests, such as the Focolare Movement of Chiara Lubich (b. 1920), the Neo-Catechumenal Way, and Communion and Liberation.

It is important to recall that common life and priestly associations by themselves cannot be artificial and external. Priest should forge these based on the fraternity and collaboration within the presbyterium, which then challenge the priests to grow in the bonds of charity.

Cohabitation, participation at the same table or membership in a flourishing sacerdotal association do not guarantee the presence of fraternity, ministry and collaboration. Where these essential elements are lacking, the observance of the purely material signs cannot possibly constitute common life. Cohabitation and sacerdotal associations are the products of fraternity, ministry and collaboration. Where the essentials, however, are present, the material elements will be the strongest weapon against individualism and isolation and the greatest asset to an effective apostolate.74

Ongoing Formation and Priestly Meetings

Priestly associations and common life, "are indeed very helpful in the personal and integral continuous formation of every priest."75 In addition to these, regular meetings among priests can also aid the bond of priests within the presbyterium. These have many advantages for both their pastoral ministry and spiritual life, particularly formational meetings for intellectual or spiritual growth.

In virtue of their common sacred ordination and mission, all priests are bound together in intimate brotherhood, which naturally and freely manifests itself in mutual aid, spiritual as well as material, pastoral as well as personal, in their meetings and in communion of life, of labor and charity. (LG 28)76
The desire for continuing education directly follows from the Council of Trent's call for capable ministers with the creation of seminaries. Blessed Pius IX further highlights the need for educated priests, calling for courses for younger clergy to take place in seminaries.77 The 1917 Code included priestly education with regular meetings or conferences required as an obligation for all clerics.78 The particular law for the United States at that time specified the frequency of these meetings: "four times a year in cities, twice a year in rural districts."79

We have seen the importance of the help and communion of other priests, both in a prudent and harmonious pastoral action, as well as in their personal and spiritual needs. Presbyterorum Ordinis 8 speaks of how priestly fraternity should lead priests to meet regularly simply for hospitality and relaxation.80 In addition, it mentions "meeting at frequent intervals", as a manifestation of community life, as was cited earlier. Paul VI also recommended "the practice of having frequent meetings with a fraternal exchange of ideas, counsel and experience with their brother priests."81

In law, there are various ways to manifest the desire and need for priestly meetings. The code foresees gatherings of the clergy particularly in the fulfilling of an important priestly duty: the need for ongoing priestly education and formation. Can. 279 calls for clerics to continue their sacred studies by attending pastoral courses, theological seminars and other conferences arranged for such purpose.82

Thus, while this is first a personal obligation of the priest himself, it also something which can and should happen in organized meetings on the diocesan level. The "Directory for Priests" calls for an "itinerary of priestly encounters" which have a unitary character. That is, by having a diocesan-wide program, there will be a simultaneous growth by all the priests in their knowledge of the faith, spiritual lives and ministerial activity, which will "work towards a gradual maturity of the entire presbyterium."83 The U.S. Bishops clearly describe this:

To pursue the ongoing formation not simply of priests but of a presbyterate as a whole brings us to new territory. The Church continues to deepen her understanding of priestly ministry and life that emerged in the Second Vatican Council; namely, priests are not priests simply one by one, but they are priests and serve the mission of the Church in a presbyterate in union with the bishop.84
The role of the bishop cannot be overemphasized in promoting formation as well as community among his priests, as he is responsible for all that "concerns the formation of all the priests who make up the diocesan presbyterium."85 "The Bishop will live up to his responsibility, not only by seeing to it that his presbyterate [presbyterium] has places and times for its ongoing formation, but also by being present in person and taking part in an interested and friendly way."86

He should propose and organize meetings, times for social and fraternal sharing, and gatherings for prayer among the priests. Obviously, such initiatives should be open to all priests, diocesan and religious, the young and elderly, and even those priests not incardinated but with an office or residence in the diocese. A planning committee and the presbyteral council should assist the bishop to fulfill this task effectively.87

An important part of priestly formation is meeting not only with other priests but also with the bishop himself. "Regular meetings with one's bishop are very useful, enabling the priest to express his ideals, projects, problems and difficulties to him, as to a father and friend, and to seek out solutions with him."88 Other occasions for contact of priests with the bishop could include the bishop's five-year canonical visit (Can. 396 §1, CCEO Can. 205 §1), his administration of confirmation (Can. 882), and his taking part in parish solemnities.

Besides meetings with the bishop, liturgical and otherwise, the Holy Father emphasizes two other types of gatherings: "spiritual gatherings for priests" and "study workshops and sessions for reflection in common" which are to aid the spiritual, intellectual and apostolic life.89

One of the personal spiritual duties of clerics is the spiritual retreat (Can. 276 §1, 4°).90 Undoubtedly, there can be increased benefit when priests attend such retreats and spiritual exercises with other priests.91 Other meetings by which priests can help each other to grow spiritually include days of recollection, time for prayer in common, and spiritual direction (CCEO Can. 369 §2). All these should be opportunities for spiritual and pastoral growth, a time to pray in peace and renew one's vision of the priesthood and pastoral zeal.92

Others diocesan gatherings will be more pastoral or practical, including several-day or week-long meetings, in which priests can examine questions of a pastoral nature as a presbyterium. Pastoral planning, however, should not overshadow the need for having the days or times for study and formation, both doctrinal-intellectual and personal-spiritual.

In this area, there is particular concern for young priests in their first years of priesthood. The "Directory for Priests" calls for them to have regular meetings with the bishop, monthly times for rest and prayer, annual meetings for continued study, retreats, and days of fraternity between the young priests.93 Pastores Dabo Vobis calls for these young priests to have an "active participation in the formational meetings of the presbyterate [presbyterium]":

They should have frequent and systematic meetings which, while they continue the sound and serious formation they have received in the Seminary, will gradually lead young priests to grasp and incarnate the unique wealth of God's gift which is the priesthood and to express their capabilities and ministerial attitude, also through an ever more convinced and responsible insertion in the presbyterate [presbyterium], and therefore in communion and co-responsibility with all their brethren.94
Beside the younger clergy, however, priests of all ages have need for continual formation, which is recommended to be done as part of the presbyterium, not only individually.
A real and well planned revival of the diocesan presbyterate is a wonderful means for the ongoing formation of midlife priests, to rediscover their priestly identity, to live their proper spirituality and celibacy and for an effective pastoral ministry. The real friendship within the presbyterate, mutual support and help in life and ministry, will help the midlife priests to fight against all temptations proper to the middle age. The practical ways and means of revival of the presbyterate in every diocese have to be planned in detail taking into consideration the exigencies of the place and time.95
Besides this planning at the diocesan level, meetings and formation should also take place on the sub-diocesan level, especially in the deanery-vicariate.
Another important moment of ongoing formation is the Vicariate Meetings.... These meetings have a double objective. They help the priests of the vicariate to grow together in their spiritual life and to reflect, plan and evaluate together the pastoral ministry in the vicariate.96
The important role of the dean in coordination between parish priests has already been highlighted. He also has a role in continuing education, as the Vicar forane "is to encourage the clergy, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to attend at the prescribed time lectures and theological meetings or conferences, in accordance with Can. 279 §2." (Can. 555 §2, 1°)97
Interparochial meetings of priests are related to concrete need and pastoral tasks. They take place with profit both for the interior life of the priests and for the efficacy of his ministry... Monthly deanery conferences and days of recollection also provide for the spiritual needs of priests.
The role of the dean as organizer of pastoral action on the inter-diocesan level is incontestably being enlarged. The postulate for organizing a deanery library to provide sustenance for the intellectual and spiritual life as well as the pastoral action of priests is brought forward more and more frequently.98
Such vicariate meetings will normally include common prayer, and often be an occasion for sharing a meal together, thus fostering priestly friendship and fraternity. Like priestly associations and common life, one of the obvious advantages of regular meetings is to help reduce the risks and negative consequences of isolation.
It is necessary to create the occasions for frequent periodic meetings, both programed and spontaneous, at various levels which could assume from time to time the form of prayer, debate, reflection, experiences, and the like, in order to avoid priests' being isolated without friends.99
The U.S. Bishops, clearly speaking about the presbyterium, examine "Practical Possibilities for the Formation of a Presbyterate" and provide several possible ideas. "Praying Together" both informally and in formal ways including retreats and days of renewal. "Studying Together" with study days and times, courses or convocations, or small groups that meet regularly. "Planning Together" through the presbyteral council, diocesan synod and consultation, as well as in vicariates and deaneries. And "Informal Contact":
The fraternal bonds of a presbyterate are forged and deepened not only in the context of prayer and work done together but also through the informal contact that priests in a presbyterate have with one another. These become occasions of mutual recognition and support and, on occasion, of healthy challenge.100
One should not forget the value of simple activities like recreation, togetherness, and other activities characteristic of friendship. "They should also be delighted to gather together for relaxation, remembering the words by which the Lord himself invited his weary apostles: 'Come apart into a desert place and rest a little'." (PO 8)101


The support given to priests by opportunities for common prayer, especially liturgical prayer such as the Liturgy of the Hours, has been discussed in the section on common life. In addition, the sacrifice of the Eucharist reveals in a special way the unity of the one priesthood. For this reason, Vatican II points to concelebration as a particular manifestation of the presbyterium.
The principal manifestation of the Church consists in the full, active participation of all God's holy people in the same liturgical celebrations, especially in the same Eucharist, in one prayer, at one altar, at which the bishop presides, surrounded by his college of priests [presbyterium] and by his ministers. (SC 41)102
Concelebration whereby the unity of the priesthood is appropriately manifested has remained in use to this day in the Church both in the East and in the West. (SC 57)103
The Council called for a new ritual of concelebration, which before in the West had only existed within the rite of Ordination, to be a powerful sign of the unity of the Church and of the priesthood. Presbyterorum Ordinis also stressed how concelebration reveals the unity of the priests' consecration and mission, a unity with each other and a hierarchical union with the bishop.104

The Congregation for Divine Worship has clearly desired to facilitate and even encourage concelebration, since it is a manifestation of the unity of the sacrifice and priesthood of Christ and thus one possible way to strengthen the bond between priests.105 Indeed this is seen in its very definition of concelebration:

In this type of celebration of Mass, many priests, in virtue of one and the same priesthood and in the person of the High Priest, act together with one will and one voice. They confect and offer the one Sacrifice in one sacramental act, and together they partake of that sacrifice.106
The "Directory for Priests" emphasizes how this unity is most especially evident when priests concelebrate with the Bishop.
The Eucharistic concelebration... especially when presided by the Bishop and with the participation of the faithful, manifests well the unity of the priesthood of Christ in his ministers, as well as the unity of the sacrifice of the People of God. Moreover, it contributes to the consolidation of sacramental fraternity which exists among priests.107
The Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday is emphasized and encouraged as primary among the concelebrations with the bishop.108 In addition, concelebration is "prescribed by the rite itself" for the ordination of priests.109 Since ancient times, the presbyterium and its priestly brotherhood have been manifested sacramentally at priestly ordinations in two ways: by the imposition of hands done by all the priests, and by the newly ordained priests concelebrating with the Bishop.110
At the ceremony of ordination to the presbyterate, not only does the ordaining bishop impose hands on the candidates, but so also do the priests present at the ceremony. There is a scriptural basis for this practice (1 Tim. 4:14), which is very ancient in the Church (see the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, early third century). It is a liturgical manifestation of the corporate or collegial character of the presbyterate.111
Also "to be held in high regard" are those Masses "in which the priests of each diocese concelebrate with their own Bishop", whenever these would occur: ordinations, the Chrism Mass and Mass of the Lord's Supper, celebrations of the diocesan patronal Saints, the anniversaries of the Cathedral's dedication and the Bishop's episcopal ordination, a Synod, pastoral visitation, retreat, or other priests meetings. "In these instances the sign of the unity of the priesthood and also of the Church inherent in every concelebration is made more clearly manifest."112
In a Eucharistic celebration presided over by the bishop, presbyters should concelebrate with him so that the mystery of the unity of the Church may be made manifest through the eucharistic celebration and so that the presbyters may be seen by the entire community to be the presbyterate [presbyterium] of the bishop.113
While concelebration is never mandatory in canon law, and only required by the ritual at ordinations of priests and bishops and at the Chrism Mass, the Church ardently desires it. "Although every priest retains the right to celebrate alone, it is desirable that priests should celebrate the Eucharist in this eminent manner."114 The Eastern law has codified this strong recommendation for concelebration. "If it is possible, presbyters are to celebrate the Divine Liturgy together with a bishop presiding or with another presbyter, since thus the unity of the priesthood and of the sacrifice will be properly manifested" (CCEO Can. 700 §2).115

Among the restrictions on concelebration are when necessity (e.g. space limitations) or pastoral benefit of the faithful suggests against it.116 Since the priest is limited to celebrating Mass only once a day, which he normally does for the good of the faithful, opportunities for concelebration would be quite limited.117 Therefore, to encourage concelebration and the unity it manifests, a second Mass is allowed when one celebrates with the Bishop, or at a meeting of priests.118

Even when a priest cannot concelebrate a Mass, because of having to celebrate Masses for the faithful, he may still participate in what one author calls a "non-consecratory" concelebration, attending in cassock and surplice and sitting with the other priests in the sanctuary.

Concelebration, consecratory or non-consecratory, is a greater manifestation of the unified hierarchical Church than is the singular Mass, simply because the presence of a group of priests represents visibly the college of priests associated with their bishop.119
One envisions a variety of possible inter-parish celebrations. For example, "Traditional get-togethers by reason of reciprocal pastoral services on the occasion of parish solemnities are in the process of progressive transformation into a community comprising the spiritual needs of the entire deanery."120 There are numerous liturgical occasions for priests to gather on at least the deanery level, such as a communal Reconciliation service, Forty Hours, or parish mission.

Whether on the deanery or diocesan level, "celebrations - liturgical and otherwise... are ways of building and strengthening the presbyterium... It is not sufficient merely to talk of the communion of the presbyterium; it must be experienced."121

In this chapter, we have seen a variety of ways that reinforce the sacramental bond and common mission among priests in a diocese. These can come from the initiative of the bishop, the presbyteral council, the vicars and deans, or the individual priests.

The common life of priests can be both a manifestation of the presbyterium and reinforcement of it in many ways. Whether priests reside together - especially recommended for priests of the same parish - or they simply share together in prayer, meals and community, it has many advantages. The benefits that common life affords for priests indicate that it should never be rejected out of hand, and should be encouraged, even if some sacrifice is required.

Two other forms of this priestly communion strive for a great unity among priests by their regular meetings: priestly associations and continuing education. The Church approves and promotes associations of priests as a means for growth in holiness and charity. Ongoing formation of priests, especially on the diocesan level, also can greatly contribute not only to their intellectual growth, but also to the unity and cooperation of the presbyterium.

Finally, among the various possible meetings of priests, opportunities for liturgical prayer should not be overlooked. Concelebration is a privileged manifestation of the presbyterium, as the Eucharist is always both a source and sign of communion of priests with each other and with their Bishop.

All the above institutions are very flexible in their concrete application and are not strictly limited to the diocesan level. They must, however, always contribute to the diocesan priest's relationship with his presbyterium, otherwise they do not belong in the Church's communion.

All the relationships which exist between the bishop and his priests and all the institutions in which these relationships are juridically articulated make sense in the measure in which they allow the priority of the presbyterium to clearly emerge and enhance its internal cohesion.122

1 Can. 275 §1. "Clerici, quippe qui omnes ad unum conspirent opus, ad aedificationem nempe Corporis Christi, vinculo fraternitatis et orationis inter se uniti sint, et cooperationem inter se prosequantur, iuxta iuris particularis praescripta."

2 Cattaneo, 123. "diverse modalità... che contribuiscono all'esercizio della corresponsabilità presbiterale".

3 Corecco, 182.

4 Vatican II. Christus Dominus, 30 §1. "Ad eamdem vero animarum curam efficaciorem reddendam, vita communis sacerdotum, praesertim eidem paroeciae addictorum, enixe commendatur, quae, dum actionem apostolicam fovet, caritatis et unitatis exemplum fidelibus praebet."

5 Lasch, Kenneth. Pastoral Preparation of Secular Clerics in the U.S.A. Rome: Lateranense, 1966, 8.

6 Borgman, 54. He cites St. Augustine's sermon CCCLV 4, 6.

7 Pellegrino, Michele. The True Priest. Villanova, PA: Augustinian Press, 1988, 13. "The two sermons... have become an integral part of the Church's official norms for priestly life, having been referred to by several councils." (A translation of the Cardinal's book, Verus Sacerdos, published in Italian in 1965.)

8 Borgman, 70.

9 Borgman, 97.

10 Cf. Trent. Session 22, "Decree Concerning Reform." Chapter I, "Decrees Concerning the Life and Conduct of Clerics are Renewed." "those things which have in the past been frequently and wholesomely enacted by the supreme pontiffs and holy councils concerning adherence to the life, conduct, dress, and learning of clerics, as also the avoidance of luxury, feastings, dances, gambling, sports, and all sorts of crime and secular pursuits, shall in the future be observed".

11 Barela, 48.

12 Under the auspices of the Lazarists, St. Vincent would hold yearly retreats for priests, and then formed a union of the best of those who had made the retreat, making an association of priests who assembled each week to discuss perfection and the means of obtaining it. (Roche, Maurice A., C.M. Saint Vincent de Paul and the Formation of Clerics. Fribourg (Switzerland): The University Press, 1964, 39-41.)

13 Over time, instead of being simply associations for diocesan clergy, most of these have become religious congregations of priests, regulated by the canonical norms for religious (as either clerical institutes of consecrated life or clerical societies of apostolic life), .

14 Borgman, 114.

15 After common life, Corecco includes the practice of a communion of goods (a voluntarily embraced poverty), as second among the institutions which reinforce the presbyterium (Corecco, 184).

16 Barela, 48.

17 Borgman, 120.

18 Borgman, 119.

19 Pius X. "To The Catholic Clergy On Priestly Sanctity." Haerent Animo. August 4, 1908. "Testantur Ecclesiae annales, quibus temporibus sacerdotes passim in communem quamdam vitam conveniebant, quam bonis fructibus id genus societas abundarit. Tale aliquid quidni in hanc ipsam aetatem, congruenter quidem locis et muniis, revocari queat? Pristini etiam fructus, in gaudium Ecclesiae, nonne sint recte sperandi?"

20 CIC 1917 Can. 134. "Consuetudo vitae communis inter clericos laudanda ac suadenda est, eaque, ubi viget, quantum fieri potest, servanda."

21 CIC 1917 Can. 467 §5. "the Ordinary shall prudently take care that, according to the norm of Canon 134, he [the vicar cooperator] live in the same parish house."

22 Woestmann, 185.

23 Pius XII. "On the Development of Holiness in Priestly Life." Menti Nostrae. September 23, 1950, 110. "E qua communis vitae consuetudine etsi quaedam incommoditates orini possubt, nemini tamen dubium est maximas proficisci utilitates: primum caritatis atque alacritatis studium magis magisque cotidie apud sacerdotes incendi; deinde christiano populo documentum supponi quamodo iidem sint a suis ipsorum rationibus a suisque propinquis voluntate seiuncti; tum palam fieri omnibus quam religiosa cura sacerdotes castimoniae suae consulant."

24 Vatican II. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 8. "In order to enable priests to find mutual help in cultivating the intellectual and spiritual life, to promote better cooperation amongst them in the ministry, to safeguard them from possible dangers arising from loneliness, it is necessary to foster some kind of community life or social relations with them. This however can take different forms according to varying personal and pastoral needs: by priests' living together where this is possible, or by their sharing a common table, or at least meeting at frequent intervals."

25 Hesch, 22.

26 Paul VI. "On The Celibacy of the Priest." Sacerdotalis Caelibatus. June 24, 1967, 80. "One cannot sufficiently recommend to priests a life lived in common and directed entirely toward their sacred ministry; the practice of having frequent meetings with a fraternal exchange of ideas, counsel and experience with their brother priests; the movement to form associations which encourage priestly holiness."

27 Synod of Bishops, 1971. part II, II, n. 2. "Since priests are bound together by an intimate sacramental brotherhood and by their mission, and since they work and plan together for the same task, some community of life or a certain association of life shall be encouraged among them and can take various forms, including non-institutional ones."

28 Congregation for Bishops, Ecclesiae Imago, 112. "The bishop takes special care that priests, especially the young, are not left to work isolated or all alone, as can happen in small or almost deserted places... it is very opportune that the bishop suggest ways for them to have common life."

29 Ibid., 179. For a greater efficacy in the care of souls, the optimal parish structure is that "which has a pastor and at least one other priest, who, insofar as they can, live a common life."

30 John Paul II. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 81. "Let us recall the different forms of common life among priests, which have always existed, though they have appeared in different ways and with different degrees of intensity, in the life of the Church: 'Today, it is impossible not to recommend them, especially among those who live together or are pastorally involved in the same place. Besides the advantage which comes to the apostolate and its activities, this common life of priests offers to all, to fellow priests and lay faithful alike, a shining example of charity and unity' (1990 Synod of Bishops. "Instrumentum Laboris: The Formation of Priests in the Circumstances of the Present Day", 60)."

31 Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 29. "Huius communionis indi-cium est etiam vita communis cui semper favit Ecclesia quamque recens ipsa Concilii Vaticani II documenta suaserunt, sicut et insequentis Magisterii, quaeque utiliter in non paucis dioecesibus applicatur."

32 Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Le giovani chiese, 26. "La vita comune, basata sull'unico presbiterio ed espressione di fraternità, è vivamente raccomandata dalla chiesa per i sacerdoti diocesani. Essa favorisce il lavoro apostolico di gruppo e soprattutto la prima evangelizzazione che, come l'esperienza dimostra, difficilmente può essere realizzata dai singoli. I vescovi studino, quindi, secondo le possibilità e valorizzando i modelli offerti dalla cultura locale, i modi concreti per realizzarla, superando comprensibili difficoltà organizzative ed eventuali resistenze psicologiche. Si ricordi che la vita comune non si improvvisa, ma richiede una sensibilizzazione e preparazione fin dal seminario.
"Quando, nella stessa parrocchia, sono impegnati più sacerdoti, è consigliabile che vivano nella stessa casa, formando una comunità. È pure utile instaurare la convivenza tra sacerdoti che curano comunità cristiane distinte, ma vicine. Si faccia il possibile per evitare che qualche sacerdote, specie se giovane, rimanga per lungo tempo isolato. Tuttavia, siccome in diverse zone ragioni pastorali costringono molti sacerdoti a trovarsi soli in parrocchia, il vescovo si impegni ad aiutarli nello spirito comunitario, organizzando incontri regolari per una convivenza fraterna, in piccoli gruppi o a livello diocesano."

33 Can. 280. "Clericis valde commendatur quaedam vitae communis consuetudo; quae quidem, ubi viget, quantum fieri potest, servanda est." The sources for this canon are CIC 1917 Can. 134, Presbyterorum Ordinis 8, and the 1973 Directory Ecclesiae Imago 112. While our focus is on the common life of priests, these canons include all clerics, thus a clerical community might also include bishops and deacons.

34 CCEO Can. 376. "Vita communis inter clericos caelibes laudanda, quatenus fieri potest, foveatur, ut ipsi in vita spirituali et intellectuali colenda mutuo adiuventur et aptius in ministerio cooperari possint."

35 Can. 533, 550 §1. "praesertim in domo pluribus presbyteris communi".

36 Hesch, 17.

37 Barela, 49.

38 Garcia, Excelso, O.P. Manual for Parish Priests according to the 1983 Codex Iuris Canonici. Manila (Philippines): University of San Tomas, 1983, 66.

39 Can. 245 §2. "per vitam in seminario communem atque per amicitiae coniunctionisque necessitudinem cum aliis excultam praeparentur ad fraternam unionem cum dioecesano presbyterio, cuius in Ecclesiae servitio erunt consortes." Cf. "The Basic Plan for Priestly Formation." Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis. January 6, 1970, 47. "By means of seminary life, let the candidates be prepared in such a way that, when they shall have received sacred orders, they will insert themselves into the larger community of the diocesan presbyterate [presbyterium]".

40 Bertola, 98.

41 Hesch, 128.

42 Composta, Dario, SDB. "Commentario, c. 280" in Commento al codice di diritto canonico. Pinto, Pio Vito, et al., eds. 2nd ed. Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001, 168. "La vita in comune del clero può costituire un incentivo e un proficuo scambio di informazioni, oltre che di esempio."

43 Hesch, 152.

44 Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 29. "Rationes diversae fovendae sunt secundum possibilitates et commoditates effectivas, non necessario laudabilia vitae religiosae exempla imitando."

45 Navarro, Luis. Persone e soggetti nel diritto della Chiesa: Temi di diritto della persona. Rome: Subsidia Canonica, 2000, 82, footnote 14. "Nel caso dei chierici la vita comune... proviene dalla particolare comunione fra i presbiteri radicata nel sacramento dell'Ordine. Inoltre, le manifestazioni concrete di questa vira comune tendono a fornire un aiuto ai presbiteri per lo svolgimento del loro ministero e un sostengo alla loro vita spirituale. Il fondamento sacramentale di questa vita comune non significa però che essa sia una conseguenza essenziale del sacramento dell'Ordine, perciò non costituisce un obbligo dei chierici secolari ed è a loro unicamente raccomanda".

46 Chica Arellano, Fernando. "Una cierta vida en común entre clérigos. Aproximación jurídico-pastoral al canon 280." Periodica de re canonica 91 (2002)198. "el legislador dice quaedam vitae communis, señalando con esta formulación una abstracción que pide ser concretada según las diversas singularidades existenciales o pastorales. En ese dilatado radio tienen, pues, cabida la programación de común acuerdo, la revisión comunitaria de vida, la mesa compartida, las reuniones periódicas, la convivenza habitual, el coloquio sincero, la oración conjunta, etc."

47 Guanzon, 139.

48 John Paul II. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 46. "magnae utilitatis ad communionem munus est promovendi varia genera aggregationis, quae, sive in traditis sive in recentioribus formis motuum ecclesialium, Ecclesiae ferre pergunt vitalitatem quae donum Dei est atque authenticum 'vernum Spiritus tempus' constituit."

49 Navarro, 82. "fraternità universale che è propria dell'ordo presbyterorum, si concretizza poi all'interno del presbiterio nella struttura gerarchica alla quale il sacerdote concreto appartiene. Altre manifestazioni giuridiche di questa fraternità sono le associazioni sacerdotali e la vira comune fra i chierici".

50 Borgman, 121.

51 cf. McMahon, Joseph H. "The Apostolic Union of Secular Priests" in Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 1. McMahon claims Holzhauser founded the Apostolic Union and then Lebeurier reorganized it in 1913. While there is no doubt the Apostolic Union follows the tradition of Holzhauser, it is inaccurate to call him the founder when the date of its establishment is consistently cited as 1862, two hundred years after Holzhauser's death.

52 Borgman, 129.

53 Pius X. Haerent animo. "There are, indeed, associations of this kind which enjoy episcopal approval; and the advantages they confer are all the greater if one becomes a member early in life, in the very first years of the priesthood. We ourselves have had practical experience of the worth of one such association".

54 Ibid. "Another suggestion which we warmly recommend is that priests, as befits brothers, should form a closer union among themselves, with the approval and under the direction of the bishop. It is strongly to be recommended that they should form an association in order to help one another in adversity, to defend the honor of their name and office against attack, and for other similar objects. But it is even more important that they should form an association with a view to the cultivation of sacred learning, particularly in order to apply themselves with greater solicitude to the object of their vocation and to promote the welfare of souls by concerting their ideas and their efforts. The annals of the Church show that at times when priests generally lived in a form of common life, this association produced many good results. Why might not one re-establish in our own day something of the kind, with due attention to differences of country and priestly duties? Might not one justifiably hope, and the Church would rejoice at it, that such an institution would yield the same good results as formerly?"

55 John XXIII. Sacerdotii nostri primordia,12. "What a great consolation it is to Us to realize that at the present time many generous-hearted priests are showing that they realize this; even though they belong to the diocesan clergy, they have sought the help and aid of certain pious societies approved by Church authorities in order to find a quicker and easier way to move along the road to perfection.

56 Bertola, 101.

57 Vatican II. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 8. "Magni quoque habendae sunt et diligenter promovendae associationes quae, statutis a competenti ecclesiastica auctoritate recognitis, per aptam et convenienter approbatam vitae ordinationem et per iuvamen fraternum, sanctitatem sacerdotum in exercitio ministerii fovent, et sic toti Ordini Presbyterorum servire intendunt."

58 Cf. Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 17. Quoted on page 29.

59 Herranz, 1990, 284-286; 279. "Un'Associazione sacerdotale, di qualsiasi tipo essa sia, nasce e si costituisce per la libera convergenza della volontà dei soci: non come conseguenza immediata di una realtà sacramentale o di un atto istitutivo della Gerarchia ecclesiastica."

60 Synod of Bishops, 1971. part II, II, n. 2. "Consociationes sacerdotales provehendae sunt, quae, in spiritu ecclesialis communionis, a legitima ecclesiastica auctoritate recognitae".

61 Can. 278 §2. "Magni habeant clerici saeculares praesertim illas consociationes quae, statutis a competenti auctoritate recognitis, per aptam et convenienter approbatam vitae ordinationem et fraternum iuvamen, sanctitatem suam in ministerii exercitio fovent, quaeque clericorum inter se et cum proprio Episcopo unioni favent."

62 According to Eastern law, "it pertains to the eparchial bishop to judge authentically concerning this suitability." (CCEO Can. 391)

63 In order to assure that an association is compatible with the charism of the religious institute, permission is required for religious to exercise the right of association. "In accordance with their own law, members of religious institutes may, with the consent of their Superior, join associations." (Can. 307 §3, CCEO Can. 578 §3)

64 Corecco, 185.

65 Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Le giovani chiese, 6. "Among the means that promote fraternity among priests may be mentioned priestly associations. These are to be encouraged when, with statutes approved by the competent authorities, they aim to foster spiritual life, human relations, and cultural and pastoral activities, and to develop unity among the priests themselves and with the bishop. Associations with a closed, exclusive spirit are to be avoided, especially if they are in any way connected with, or even favored by, influential groups or political movements. In any case, the unity of the whole 'presbyterium' should be stressed in the younger Churches."

66 John Paul II. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 31. "other traditions of spiritual life... are capable of enriching the life of individual priests as well as enlivening the presbyterate [presbyterium] with precious spiritual gifts. Such is the case with many old and new Church associations which welcome priests into their spiritual family: from societies of apostolic life to priestly secular institutes, and from various forms of spiritual communion and sharing to ecclesial Movements."

67 Ibid, 81. "Aliud quoddam subsidium importare possunt sacerdotum sodalitates, praesertim vero ipsa instituta saecularia sacerdotum quae prae se ferunt tamquam propriam notam indolem dioecesanam, ex qua arctius sacerdotes cum episcopo consociantur... Cunctae autem 'fraternitatis sacerdotalis' rationes ab Ecclesia probatae proficiunt non tantum ad spiritalem vitam, verum ad vitam quoque apostolicam ac pastoralem."

68 Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 88. "Auxilium, quod hoc in campo est ferendum sacerdotibus, efficax munimentum invenire potest in variis Consociationibus sacerdotalibus, quae tendunt ad spiritualitatem formandam vere dioecesanam."

69 Congregation for Clergy. "Declaration on the association of priests." Quidam Episcopi. March 8, 1982, 1. "ad vitam spiritualem excolendam, ad ecclesiasticam culturam fovendam, ad opera pietatis vel caritatis exercenda aliosque fines persequendos cum propria sacramentali consecratione et divina missione plene congruentes."

70 Clark, in National Federation of Priests' Councils, n. C, 1. Cf. Congregation for Clergy. Quidam Episcopi, 4. "irreconcilable with the clerical state, and therefore prohibited to all members of the clergy, are those associations which intend to unite deacons or presbyters in a type of 'union,' thus reducing their sacred ministry to a profession or career comparable to functions of a profane character. Such... can easily place the clerics in opposition to their holy pastors".

71 Herranz, 1990, 293. "si chiede che le associazioni salvaguardino e favoriscano la necessaria comunione all'interno dell'Ordine presbiterale e del Presbiterio diocesano."

72 "By virtue of this fundamental right, priests are free to found associations or become members of those which already exist, provided the associations pursue good aims which are in keeping with the dignity and requirements of the clerical state." "There exists in the life of a secular priest a legitimate sphere of personal autonomy, freedom and responsibility, in which he enjoys the same rights and obligations as any other person in the Church." "Within the general limits of morality and the duties proper to his state, a secular priest can freely administer and decide, individually or together with others in an association, all the spiritual, cultural and financial aspects of his personal life." (Escrivá, St. Josemaria, Conversations with Mgr Escrivá de Balaguer, Shannon, Ireland: Ecclesia Press, 1968, 20-21.) Cf. Rincón-Pérez, Tomás. "Commentario sul Can. 278" in Lombardía and Arrieta, 233-234.

73 Erdö and Martin, 435.

74 Borgman, 162.

75 Guanzon, 138-139. He continues: "Through them, all priests find mutual help in cultivating their intellectual and spritual life; in avoiding the possible dangers arising from loneliness; and in overcoming their limitations and weaknesses."

76 Vatican II. Lumen Gentium, 28. "Vi communis sacrae ordinationis et missionis Presbyteri inter se intima fraternitate nectuntur, quae sponte ac libenter sese manifestet in mutuo auxilio, tam spirituali quam materiali, in conventibus et communione vitae, laboris et caritatis." Emphasis mine.

77 Pius IX. "On The Church In Austria." Singulari Quidem. March 17, 1856. "It is thus necessary that you apply yourselves with the greatest care to the correct and precise instruction of the clergy. Especially in your seminaries, see that an excellent and entirely Catholic course of studies flourishes, a course by which the young clerics, under the direction of approved teachers, might be formed right from their most tender years to piety, virtue, and a Christian spirit."

78 CIC 1917 Can. 131 §1. "In the episcopal city and in the various rural deaneries, several times a year on days to be fixed in advance by the Ordinary of the place, meetings or so-called conferences on moral and liturgical subjects shall be held; to which may be added other exercises which the Ordinary may deem helpful toward the advancement of clerical learning and piety."

79 Bouscaren, T. Lincoln, S.J. and Adam C. Ellis, S.J. Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, 2nd ed. Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1951, 111. They cite the Third Council of Baltimore, n. 192.

80 Vatican II. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 8. "Under the influence of the spirit of brotherhood priests should not forget hospitality, and should cultivate kindness and the sharing of goods. They should be particularly concerned about those who are sick, about the afflicted, the overworked, the lonely, the exiled, the persecuted. They should also be delighted to gather together for relaxation, remembering the words by which the Lord himself invited his weary apostles: 'Come apart into a desert place and rest a little'."

81 Paul VI, Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, 80.

82 Can. 279 §1. "Clerics are to continue their sacred studies even after ordination to the priesthood."
§2. "Priests are to attend pastoral courses to be arranged for them after their ordination, in accordance with the provisions of particular law. At times determined by the same law, they are to attend other courses, theological meetings or conferences, which offer them an occasion to acquire further knowledge of the sacred sciences and of pastoral methods." Cf. CCEO Can. 372.

83 Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 81. "Congressionum sacerdotalium itinerarium proprietatem debet habere" ... "ad progredientem maturitatem ducant totius presbyterii."

84 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). "The Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests." Washington: USCCB, 2001, part 3, a. Note the use of "presbyterate" for "presbyterium".

85 Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 89. "presbyteros, quorum formatio... tum quod ad omnes, utpote presbyterii dioecesani participes."

86 John Paul II. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 79. "Implebit ideo officium suum episcopus, non modo si presbyterio suo praebuerit loca ac tempora permanentis formationis sed etiam si ipsemet praesentem se exhibuerit et congressionibus interfuerit humaniter ex animoque."

87 Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 89. "It is also important to create a <committee for planning> and implementing, whose task it is to help the Bishop to set the topics to be considered each year in any of the areas of ongoing formation; to prepare the necessary aids; design the courses, sessions, meetings, and retreats; and organize the calendar properly so as to foresee the absences and replacements for priests."
"In this delicate work the Bishop, while performing an irreplaceable and undelegatable role, will know how to seek the collaboration of the council of priests, for it is an organism which, by its nature and purpose, is a suitable aid, especially in certain tasks such as that of drawing up the plan of formation."

88 Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Le giovani chiese, 22. "Sono molto utili incontri regolari con il proprio vescovo, al quale manifestare come ad un padre e amico i propri ideali, progetti, problemi e difficoltà e con il quale concorde soluzioni."

89 John Paul II. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 80. "conventus spiritualitatis sacerdotalis" and "pondus etiam congressiones studiorum communisque meditationis".

90 Cf. Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 85. The frequecy and length of the retreat is left to particular law. "The two most usual modes which may be prescribed by the Bishop in his own Diocese are the day of recollection (possibly monthly) and the annual Retreat."

91 Ibid., "It is fitting that the Bishop plan and organize the retreats and recollections". Cf. Barela, 50. "Retreats in common on the part of priests help deepen and perfect the sense of 'co-responsibility' for the whole diocese." To help foster fraternity and communion, he also recommends having a building or house for priestly retreats and common prayer. Such a "House for Clerics" is also desired by the Congregation for Clergy, "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 89. When available, the diocesan seminary would seem to be especially suitable for such a purpose. Cf. Singaroyan, 201-202.

92 Among the possible spiritual or liturgical gatherings are included Holy Thursday, the Chrism Mass and Ordinations, all of which the next section on concelebration will treat, p. 84-85.

93 Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 91. "the young priests must benefit from a personal relationship with their own Bishop and with a wise spiritual father and from times of rest, of meditation and monthly recollection." "it is necessary to organize, in the first years of priesthood, annual meetings in which appropriate themes in theology, law, spirituality and culture are studied and dealt with in greater depth, as well as those special sessions dedicated to problems in morality, pastoral care and liturgy.... It should be beneficial also that during these days, fraternity between the young priests and also with the more experienced ones be encouraged, allowing the exchange of experiences, greater friendship and the refined evangelical practice of fraternal correction."

94 John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 76. "actuosa participatio congressionum ad formationem presbyterii pertinentium". "ea illas habere debet assiduitatem et rationem congressionum quae, dum producunt gravitatem et soliditatem formationis in seminario acceptae, gradatim iuvenes ducunt ad intellegendas et colendas singulares divitias «doni» Dei - sacerdotii videlicet - et ad interpositionem certiorem ac magis consciam in dies in presbyterium, ideoque in communionem atque in corresponsalitatem cum omnibus fratribus in sacerdotio."

95 Singaroyan, 180. Obviously, he is using the word "presbyterate" to refer to the presbyterium.

96 Singaroyan, 167.

97 Can. 555 §2. "In vicariatu sibi concredito vicarius foraneus: 1° operam det ut clerici, iuxta iuris particularis praescripta, statutis temporibus intersint praelectionibus, conventibus theologicis aut conferentiis, ad normam can. 279, §2". The protopresbyter has the same task in the parallel CCEO Can. 278 §2, 1°.

98 Barela, 49 and 50.

99 Bertola, 92-93.

100 USCCB. "The Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests", part 3, d.

101 Vatican II, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 8. "Etiam ad relaxandum animum libenter et cum gaudio conveniant, memores verborum quibus ipse Dominus Apostolos defatigatos invitabat: 'Venite seorsum in desertum locum, et requiescite pusillum' (Mc. 6:31)."

102 Vatican II. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 41. " habentes praecipuam manifestationem Ecclesiae haberi in plenaria et actuosa participatione totius plebis sanctae Dei in iisdem celebrationibus liturgicis, praesertim in eadem Eucharistia, in una oratione, ad unum altare cui praeest Episcopus a suo presbyterio et ministris circumdatus." It cites St. Ignatius of Antioch as a source: Magnesians, 7; Philadelphians, 4; Smyrnaens, 8.

103 Ibid., 57 §1. "Concelebratio, qua unitas sacerdotii opportune manifestatur, in Ecclesia usque adhuc in usu remansit tam in Oriente quam in Occidente."

104 Vatican II. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7. "All priests share with the bishops the one identical priesthood and ministry of Christ...This unity is best shown on some occasions by liturgical concelebration and priests also affirm their union with the bishops in the eucharistic celebration."

105 Congregation for Sacred Rites. "Instruction on Eucharistic Worship." Eucharisticum Mysterium. May 25, 1967, 47. "Concelebration of the Eucharist aptly demonstrates the unity of the sacrifice and of the priesthood... Concelebration both symbolizes and strengthens the brotherly bond of the priesthood". Congregation for Divine Worship. "Declaration on Concelebration." In Celebratione Missae. August 7, 1972, 1. "The concelebration of the Eucharist in communities ought to be held in high esteem. Fraternal concelebration by priests symbolizes and strengthens the links which unite them with one another and which unite the community."

106 Congregation for Sacred Rites. "General Decree for the Rite of Concelebration." Ritus Servandus. April 16, 1965, Decretum Generale. "in hac ratione Missam celebrandi plures sacerdotes, in virtute eiusdem Sacerdotii et in persona Summi Sacerdotis simul una voluntate et una voce agunt, atque unicum Sacrificium unico actu sacramentali simul conficiunt et offerunt, idemque simul participant."

107 Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 23. "concelebratio eucharistica... praesertim cum ei Episcopus praesidet et cum fidelium participatione fit, bene patefacit Christi sacerdotii unitatem in multiplicitate eius ministrorum, necnon sacrificii et Populi Dei unitatem. Ea insuper confert ad sacramentalem fraternitatem, quae est inter presbyteros, confirmandam."

108 Cf. John Paul II. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 80; Pastores Gregis, 34. In addition, many dioceses also make this a day of fraternity and celebration of significant anniversaries of priestly ordination.

109 USCCB. "General Instruction of the Roman Missal." Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, editio typica tertia. November 12, 2002, 199. "ipso ritu praecipitur".

110 Vatican II. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 8. "This [brotherhood] is signified liturgically from ancient times by the fact that the priests present at an ordination are invited to impose hands, along with the ordaining bishop, on the chosen candidate, and when priests concelebrate the sacred Eucharist in a spirit of harmony." Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1568. "The unity of the presbyterium finds liturgical expression in the custom of the presbyters' imposing hands, after the bishop, during the Rite of ordination." Cf. Prusak, 96.

111 Wilcken, John, S.J. The Priest Today: Theological and Spiritual Reflections. Denville, NJ: Dimension Books, 1976, 35.

112 USCCB. "General Instruction of the Roman Missal", 203. "In singulari honore illa concelebratio habenda est, qua presbyteri alicuius dioecesis cum proprio Episcopo concelebrant". "In his casibus illud signum unitatis sacerdotii, necnon Ecclesiae, omni concelebrationi proprium, magis perspicuo modo manifestatur." Cf. John Paul II, Pastores Gregis, 34.

113 Congregation for Divine Worship. "Ceremonial of Bishops." Caeremoniale Episcoporum. September 14, 1984. Trans. Collegevile, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1989, 21. "Immo in celebratione eucharistica cui praeest Episcopus, presbyteri cum ipso concelebrent, ut mysterium unitatis Ecclesiae per Eucharistiam manifestetur et ipsi tamquam presbyterium Episcopi coram communitate appareant."

114 Congregation for Sacred Rites. Eucharisticum Mysterium, 47. "integra manente cuique sacerdoti facultate Missam singularem celebrandi, praestat sacerdotes illo praeclaro modo Eucharisticam celebrare".

115 CCEO Can. 700 §2. "Si tamen fieri potest, Divinam Liturgiam presbyteri una cum Episcopo praeside aut cum alio presbytero celebrent, cum ita opportune unitas sacerdotii ac sacrificii manifestetur".

116 Can. 902. "Unless the benefit of Christ's faithful requires or suggests otherwise, priests may concelebrate the Eucharist". In deciding whether to celebrate individually or concelebrate, "attention should be given above all to the pastoral needs of the Christian faithful." (CCEO Can. 700 §1) Another limitation is the prohibition of having two celebrations in the same place at the same time.

117 Can. 905 §1. "Apart from those cases in which the law allows him to celebrate or concelebrate the Eucharist a number of times on the same day, a priest may not celebrate more than once a day."

118 USCCB. "General Instruction of the Roman Missal", 204. "A priest who concelebrates with the Bishop or his delegate at a Synod or pastoral visitation, or concelebrates on the occasion of a meeting of priests, may celebrate Mass again for the benefit of the faithful."

119 Skillin, Harmon Daniel. Concelebration: A Historical Synopsis and Canonical Commentary. Washington D.C.: CUA, 1966, 69.

120 Barela, 50.

121 Purcell, 148.

122 Corecco, 188.

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