A priest’s mission is not to condemn – Lent pastoral letter

Saturday, 13 February 2016,

fileA priest’s mission is not to condemn or excommunicate but to place his hands upon the sick and pray for the mercy of God which heals, the bishops said in their pastoral letter for Lent.

This is why, as your Bishops, we appeal to anyone amongst us who is sick, in our families or in our communities, to move closer to Jesus Christ, who St Augustine refers to as the “Healer of the Soul,” Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Gozo Bishop Mario Grech said.

If the Church remains a space reserved for spiritually healthy people, it would be discouraging the wounded from sitting around the altar, the bishops said in a pastoral letter for Lent.

“Therefore, let us encourage those who are feeling weak, particularly those who are going through a difficult time in their marriage or family life, so that they may find their place in the Church,” Mgr Charles Scicluna and Gozo bishop Mario Grech said in the letter circulated in the press.

“There is no sickness that cannot be cured by Jesus. Only one thing is necessary: that we reveal our true spiritual condition to Him convinced that He has the ‘word’ to heal our wounds… This is the priest’s mission: not to condemn or excommunicate, but to place his hands upon the sick and pray for the mercy of God which heals.”

“With the span of time, our vision of this Church might have become clouded,” the bishops said in a letter focusing on the sick.

Through his actions, St Paul shows us that the Church is made up of sick people – that which Pope Francis refers to as “a field hospital” which welcomes the wounded, some of them so seriously wounded that it is impossible for them ever to be “whole” again.

This is the open Church which we would like to see in Malta, the bishops said.

“In this “field hospital” where many are in danger of dying, we should not be concerned with, for example, how high are the patient’s sugar levels, because what the patient needs at this particular moment is something far more important: to help him or her avoid death… only then we can help these persons to look after other aspects of their health.”

We should not exclude sick persons, because God may actually visit us in a person who is weak, they said.

The pastoral letter can be read in full below

Pastoral letter