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"The Vision and Mission of the Priesthood in the Thought of Charles Borromeo and Pope Francis"

Oktovinaris Sabnani, C.S. (Indonesia)

Master of Arts in Theological Studies, with field of specialization in Systematic Theology
Adviser: Fr. James Kroeger, M.M., D.Miss.


The priesthood is an honorable life. If the subject sees the priest of the priesthood, we must situate the priest in the context of his life, works, and his existence. The priesthood enables the priest to do the ministry with a sense of joy and gladness. This priesthood ministry is a sharing of the priesthood ministry of Jesus, the High Priest. Christ conferred the highest degree of the priesthood to his disciples and bishops as their successors. But scandals and allegations of scandals sometimes dishonor this sacred vocation and ministry. The abuses in the Church done by priests destroy the beauty of the priesthood. Thus, the proverb among country folk is indeed a terrible indictment: “if you want to go to hell, become a priest”€.
Facing this situation, the Council of Trent labored for almost twenty years (1545-1563) to expel this plague and reform the Church and its clergy. Borromeo was to be the first to carry its decrees into the life and action of the Church. Indeed, there echoed in his ears, “reform, reform!” Thus, Borromeo insisted that “Reform, we must first begin by reforming ourselves. Reform, like charity in the proverb, begins at home with the household.”€
Moreover, the contemporary era also has its effects on priests as well as the Church. We live in a more challenging situation where primary values are often money, power, and sex. Priests should be continuously aware of this situation and their identity, as it is said: “they are in the world but not of the world.” Pope Francis emphasizes that a priest must think well about his origin of being called by God to preach the Gospel and bring people to an encounter with Jesus. A priest must feel well about the desire to be contacted by God to smell the smell of the sheep.
Therefore, the renewal of the life of priests is necessary to achieve an integrated understanding of mission as a pastor. As Borromeo said: “abuses in the Church arose from the ignorant clergy”€. Indeed, exploring the thought of Borromeo and Pope Francis on the priesthood is a way to understand the priestly vocation, the priestly life, and the priestly ministry in today’s world. Therefore, this theological and pastoral thesis seeks to answer the central question: What is the vision and mission of the priesthood in the thought of Charles Borromeo and Pope Francis, and how is it relevant today?
This thesis concludes by focusing mainly on the wealth of the priesthood in the thought of Borromeo and Pope Francis for the vocation, life, and ministry of priests. Then, it analyzes some essential insights of Borromeo and Pope Francis facing the urgent need to renew priestly vocation, life, and ministry. Finally, the thesis proposes some pastoral suggestions for bishops and superiors, priests, seminarians, the faithful, the formation process, and evangelization.

Final Defense:

Date of Defense:19 July 2021(Monday) Time:3:00-4:20pm MANILA (9:00-10:20am ROME)

Board of Examiners: Fr. Jojo Fung, S.J., Ph.D.(Principal Examiner), Fr. Mariano Cisco, C.S., S.T.L., S.T.D. cand. and Fr. Hartono Budi, S.J., Th.D.

Proposal Defense:

Date of Proposal:16 December 2020 (Wednesday)

Board of Examiners: Fr. James Kroeger, M.M., D.Miss. (Adviser), Fr. Rene Paglinawan, O.A.R.E.H.L. and Fr. Heribertus Mangkur, C.S., S.T.B., M.A.

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Loyola School of Theology