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Be as uncompromising as St Thomas Becket, Cardinal Nichols tells priests

Cardinal Nichols (CNS)

Cardinal Vincent Nichols encouraged priests to persevere in their ministry despite distressing circumstances, during his homily yesterday for the Jubilee of Priests at Santa Maria Regina degli Apostoli alla Montagnola in Rome.

The cardinal said: “A priest who is always complaining about his troubles, about his lack of free time, about his lack of money, about his companions, about his bishop, is a counter-sign. Yes, there is hardship; but, yes there is faithfulness; yes, there is resurrection, the true source of our daily hope, joy and perseverance.”

The Cardinal also mentioned the visit of the Hungarian relic of St Thomas Becket as a reminder of the saint who “became a symbol of the resistance of the Church to powerful and unscrupulous rulers”, saying that Thomas should be an “inspiration” for all priests.

“Thomas embraced his ordination as priest and bishop with a radical seriousness. So should we … His focus became Christ, the sole measure and motivation of every word and action. This is to be our focus too.”

He added: “Thomas knew when compromise was no longer an acceptable path”  which “led to a dramatic decision to return to his See, from exile, knowing his life was at risk.”

Drawing on this example, the Cardinal cautioned: “For us the risks are less dramatic. They creep up on us as we slowly compromise and lose our distinctive identity and with it some of the edge, the power, of the witness we are to give.”

Recalling that St Thomas’s tomb became a place of miraculous reconciliations, the Cardinal prayed that the ministry of priests would be characterised by “striving for the reconciliation of conflicting parties.

“This, of course, can only have its source in the gracious mercy of God, a mercy which, we know, God never tires of pouring out even while we grow weary of seeking it … and that this can only have as its source ‘the gracious mercy of God’ which is ‘poured out in the Sacrament of Reconciliation’.”