Christ, not one's career, as the ideal for priests and seminarians, say Asian bishops
During a meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, its secretary general, Mgr Quevedo, urges the clergy "to be like Christ and not a careerist" and "be His living witness in training seminarians".

Hua Hin (AsiaNews) – The role of priests in Asia and the importance of training seminarians as well as the morality and role model function the clergy plays vis-à-vis the faithful are the main topics under discussion at the meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC). The event, which began on Monday and ends on Saturday, is taking place at the Salesian retreat in Hua Hin, Thailand.

Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, FABC's secretary general, "focused on the proper training of priests" in his formal opening speech before an audience of some 80 major seminary directors.

The prelate stressed that in a priest's world there are "many lights", but also "some shadows that darken and disfigure the image of the priest".

"We must be conscious of the outrage the faithful feel and how scandalised they react when some priests break their [vow of] celibacy," he explained.

"People are deeply distressed by the gap between what some priests say and what they do," said the former chairman of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

The faithful are also "saddened by the pastoral mediocrity they see in many priests and their desire to lead their ministry in a status quo manner".

According to the archbishop, "some among us have succumbed to the temptation of comfort and security that comes with the priestly functions, and abandoned our idealism and spirit of self-sacrifice. The priesthood should not be seen as a career or [the basis of ] one's livelihood; instead, one should identify and imitate Christ."

"People make snide remarks about the 'Church of the Poor' when they see priest with the latest electronic gadget or driving a new car", he said. "This can have a ripple effect with dire consequences on the image and credibility of the Church."

"Although the number of priests who fail in their duties is small among the thousands of Asian priests, the notoriety that this small number gets is sadly disproportionate."

After laying out the challenges Asia's clergy must face, Archbishop Quevedo "urged spiritual directors to better train seminarians", stressing that there are "some areas in the training of priests that needs improvement."

There is, among them, a need for "continuity that takes into account all aspects" of seminary training and recognises the need for a "systematic follow-up [. . .] in the succeeding years".

If it is true that the "candidate himself is the main agent" of his own training, it "is very important that the trainer "bear witness of the Good Shepherd whose image has to serve as inspiration to the seminarian."

"In addition to teaching," the archbishop told the directors, "your role is to be a model for all these young people."