Q. Should we hold priests to a higher standard than everyone else?
A. We must look at a priest as both a priest and as a human being. When a man becomes a priest, there is an ontological change that takes place, and he becomes “another Christ.” We say, in theological terms, he now acts in persona Christi capitis. This means that the priest acts in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the head of the Church, and becomes a living icon of Jesus, continuing His priestly ministry as one who sanctifies, teaches and governs. We should definitely continue to hold priests to a high standard of conduct because of the precious gift they have been given as men consecrated for the work of God to serve His holy people.
A priest should strive to live a moderate lifestyle, as it will help him to focus on his ministry and not on his own ambitions and desires. Pope Francis has been a powerful example of this over the past months, challenging priests to fix their gaze on Jesus and His people before themselves. His appeal to priests to not buy overly fancy cars, to stop thinking of ourselves as superior to the lay faithful, and to be willing to leave the comfort of our parishes to engage people on the margins has been a bold challenge to each of us. We must daily speak with the Lord to know what our mission is truly all about. Thus it is essential that we pray and have others pray for us, as without this font of grace, it would be impossible to live up to the high standard of the Lord to “be holy as the Lord thy God art holy!”
Fr. Nathan offering the Holy Mass in the Chapel of St. Jerome, Bethlehem