The priest as a man set apart

The priest as a man set apart

From Quick Hits: Aug 03, 2017

By Phil Lawler

Not every important public issue is political: a truth that is underlined by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow in a thought-provoking meditation on the priesthood that appears in First Things. Mention the priesthood to most people, the archbishop remarks, and they will think first about celibacy. “The world’s focus on celibacy is short-sighted, but it reflects a correct spiritual intuition. Celibacy is a powerful sign of being set apart.”

But look beyond the issue of celibacy, Archbishop Tartaglia urges his readers. “Priests are consecrated and set apart—this is fundamental to the priesthood. It means we invariably embody the scandal and the allure of the divine.” So the real question is: For what purpose are priests set apart? For the ministry of the sacraments. For the service of the altar. For the Eucharist.

Why are we facing a shortage of priests in the western world? A significant part of the problem lies in the fact that we don’t treat our priests as men set who are consecrated and set apart. Too often we see them (and worse, they see themselves) as ordinary men like us, who happen to play a different role in the parish. For that unfortunate way of thinking, Archbishop Tartaglia provides a useful antidote.

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