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CBCP president to priests: Live simply

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Priests should observe discipline and simplicity in their life so that the gospel to the poor may “better glow” through them, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said yesterday.

In a circular, Villegas reminded the clergy that 2015 is the Year of the Poor and of Consecrated Life for the Church as willed by Pope Francis.

Villegas urged the clergy to return to their original reason for desiring to be priests and reminded them of their life in the seminary.

“We wanted to be priests, hence nothing was unbearable,” he said. “Avoid as much as you can foreign travels and frequent recreation in expensive tourist destinations. Even if such are paid for by friends and family, it is best to decline and choose austerity and simplicity.”

Villegas said luxurious recreation is disrespectful to the poor.

He said priests should avoid expensive vehicles and “loud colored signature shirts and pants.”

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“To be simple is to be great in the eyes of God. The poor priest does not need to dress sloppy. We must give dignity to our vocation,” he said.

Villegas said it is a “serious sin of omission” for a priest not to have a regular poor person to help whether for education, health or livelihood.

“It is a scandal for a priest to die a rich man. We bring to heaven only what we give away on earth,” he said in the circular.

He also exhorted priests to be honest in reporting to the Curia the financial condition of their parish or school.

There are no fixed rates for offerings for masses, confirmations, funerals, weddings and other sacraments, he said.

Villegas also told the prelates to be careful about what they keep in their bedrooms. “A priest’s room and a bachelor’s pad are exact opposites. Is the Lord our only companion in this sacred space of the rectory?”

He also told them to always give alms to the poor who come to them.

“If you have to make a mistake, make a mistake in being too charitable, in being too kind. There is no excess in kindness. We cannot outdo Christ in kindness,” he said.

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