Archbishop Buti Tlhagale’s Homily at St Paul Outside the Walls
Archbishop Tlhagale: “Our moral authority derives from our ordination”
By Sheila Pires – The moral authority of Bishops and priests derives from one’s ordination, the Archbishop of Johannesburg Metropolitan Archdiocese has said.
Archbishop Buti Tlhagale reflected on “the importance of the moral authority of both he who ordains and the one who is ordained” in his homily at a mass celebrated at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls.
“Our moral authority derives from our ordination because it is by this moral authority that we are able to influence our congregations, the people we serve. Essentially, we are saying to them they need to live a life of virtue, but that life of virtue starts with us,” said Archbishop Tlhagale.
In the Wednesday, June 14 reflection, Archbishop Tlhagale reminded his brother Bishops who are in Rome for the Ad Limina visit, that the “moral authority” is given to the bishops and to the priests, “for the building up of the community and not for pulling it down.”
He said, “We have to embrace this moral stature like Peter and Paul. It is this moral weight that must become a positive influence on those we serve. But this moral weight also has this element of humility,” adding, “It has this element of holiness so that in whatever we do, in many ways, even though we might not consciously be aware of it, it must follow the imitation of Christ.”
Archbishop Tlhagale went on to reflect on the rite of ordination saying, “When the bishop ordains a priest, the bishop asks that grace and dignity be conferred through his act of ordination on the priest.”
He continued, “The bishop prays that the priest, by this act of ordination, be renewed in every part of his body and in his inward parts. The very in-depth of a person is renewed. This is what the bishops ask for.”
He explained that during the priestly ordination, “The bishops further ask for the holiness of the priest so that the priest might stand out, might become visible as an example, as a model of good conduct. This is what happens at every ordination and this prayer of the bishop places before the ordaining bishop himself the importance of the moral authority of both he who ordains and the one who is ordained.”
In his concluding remarks, Archbishop Tlhagale said, “The bishop consecrates the hands of the priest who is being ordained, and consecrated hands are intended to add to our moral cleanliness. And the suggestion at the consecration of the hands by the bishop is that the priest must keep his hands clean, scrubbed, and holy.”
“We shall avoid doing crimes stealing or touching inappropriately with our hands. And so good moral behaviour, good moral authority, and good dignity of the priesthood ought to be encouraged at all times,” he added.
“This ought to be our basic intuition. To influence the holiness or the sanctification of those whom we serve. In Matthew chapter five, verse 48, You must therefore become perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” Archbishop Tlhagale said.