LIMA, PERU — Amid news of sexual misconduct by two local bishops, the archbishop of Lima says chastity is impossible without prayer and that the priesthood is a treasure that should be safeguarded with fidelity.
“The priest who does not pray cannot live chastity, which is a gift from God. He should live obedience and poverty,” Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani said during a local priestly ordination on Oct. 12.
“In these days, one has to be more and more careful, because we are like sheep among the wolves.”
The cardinal made his remarks as the cases of two former bishops who engaged in sexual misconduct have come to light. Gabino Miranda, who was auxiliary bishop of Ayacucho, has been stripped of the clerical state. Guillermo Abanto, who was bishop of the military diocese, has acknowledged fathering a child.
Cardinal Cipriani said the priesthood “is a treasure because it is not something that belongs to you or to me. The Church is not ours; it is Jesus Christ’s. And these days, sometimes we don’t realize what it means to administer these treasures.”
A priest should be “a man of prayer, a sincere man who goes to confession if he falls. If he watches after his community life, he will not have problems.”
At a time when impurity and sin seek to corrupt the priest, he must recognize that the Kingdom of God is in his heart, so that this treasure is not destroyed.
“All of us, when we are ordained and filled with enthusiasm, we received this great mystery, and we don't want it to grow cold over time. Wherever you are, prepare well for Mass: devote time to the Divine Office; draw close to confession; receive spiritual direction,” the cardinal said.
“More love for the Church, more love for Jesus Christ, more penance, more unity with Christ in Mass, more frequent confession, more sincerity,” he continued.
“For this reason, when we see situations that grab our attention, that cause confusion or scandal, we have to say: The priest failed because he was not sincere; he wasn’t praying; he did not care for the charism of his institution. Thus the earthen vessel causes the treasure to be lost.”
During his remarks, the cardinal also encouraged the families of priests and members of the faith to protect them and help them to avoid temptation.
“As the people of God, care for your priests; make demands of them. They are not better or worse than anyone else; they have a very important task,” he said.