Code of Conduct for the Catholic priests of Bangladesh

Code of Conduct 

for the Catholic Priests of Bangladesh

Introduction:

The ethical and moral life of priests must be rooted in the values of the Gospel. As priests they are called to be other Christ and His disciples. They will try to live their priestly life in faithfulness to and rooted in His values, His teachings. They know they are frail human beings and unworthy, but they have been called by God and ordained by Him through the Church to be His ministers. They are thus obligated and themselves committed to live their lives in obedience and fidelity, in an explicit and steadfast way, through the whole of their lives.

Their ministries are a witness to Jesus' mission. They are for the people of God and part of them. Their priestly pastoral ministries and service, through their words, work, attitude and values, witness to His Mission. They are entrusted in this with a very special responsibility.

A priestly vocation commits them to the highest standard of ethical and moral life. People should see clearly in their behavior, conduct, example, that they are thus committed. This is all the more in an Asian and non-Christian milieu where they are very much in the public eye.

They are to be loyal to the Church, the teaching of the Church, to their Bishops. They realize that they are very public persons. Their private lives must be in accord with their public position.

  1. General Norms:
  • Priests have a special place among their faithful and they are highly respected by them and by the other denominations. Their relationships, all types of activities and services should be done with maturity. Their pastoral services as well as their involvement with the people should be genuine and trusted. In their commitment to the people they have a right to take the priests at their words.
  • They are under the watchful care of their Bishops/authority by the virtue of their obedience and it is their obligation to be loyal towards them. They are loyal to the supreme authority of the universal Catholic Church, the teaching authority of the Church Magisterium. They are one in Christ, the High Priest and they act with integrity in situations in which their loyalties may be in conflict or may be perceived to be in conflict. They never participate in decisions which may be perceived to be of benefit to them individually or to their relatives.
  • As Priests they honor confidentiality for them as well as for those who come to them. People expect from them, whenever they share their personal matters and various difficulties of their lives, a trustful relationship with confidentiality.
  • Priests should be the sign of simple lifestyle based on Gospel values. That is why some manner of common life is highly recommended to them as priests; where it exists, it is as far as possible to be maintained (can. 280). At the same time they are to follow a simple way of life and avoid anything which smacks of worldliness (can. 282).
  • Priests should maintain the highest standard of responsibility in their personal finances as well as the finances of the diocese. They do not create any contradictory situation which may be in violation of their public commitment to maintain simple lifestyle and poverty. They always plan and try to foresee that their individual financial commitments are met within the framework of their financial capability and resources. They are to see that all their financial transactions and use of their property are within the requirements of civil and canon law and the policy of the diocese. The funds donated by others for the uses of an apostolate or any other purposes are used for purposes for which they were given. They do not use any funds personally which were donated for particular purposes. They always remain sincere to maintain their personal accounts, their accountability to the authority, donors, benefactors and they become regular to write chronicles.
  • We, as priests, do not take part in making judgments (bichars). We do not strike or hurt any person, adult or child.
  • Funds donated for any particular apostolic work or services are used only for that purpose and never for personal use.
  • We do not sell, alienate, remove, and give away the property of the parish/diocese without the legal authority's authorization.

  2. Moral Conduct:

  • Priests are called to be other Christ and followers of Him and they try to live their lives in fidelity rooted in Gospel Values, the message of Christ. They are chosen by God the Father and ordained ministers of the universal Church; so they are obliged to live their life in obedience and fidelity.
  • All priests recognize that all of their conduct is more than the actions of an individual and they guard against personal conduct which will adversely affect the public image or cause embarrassment to the Church.
  • Priests would like to be just and honest in their life and in their daily ministries/activities in terms of their supportive fraternal relationship amongst their brother priests and with others; where people could see a good exemplar life. Their attitude, behavior and relationship with their Bishops should be open, transparent, genuine and impartial with great respect. It is their utmost responsibility to avoid an authoritative attitude, misunderstanding, criticism and rude behavior in their relationships.
  • Wherever they are in the parishes or institutions they are responsible to maintain their personal and community privacy. This creates a good environment, community spirit and sense of respect to brother priests, where they together can live in peace with fraternal love, mutual understanding and collaboration.
  • They do not allow themselves to possess, distribute or use any drug illegally. They do not put themselves in such position where they are unable to do their pastoral ministries due to the consumption of alcohol/drugs. They do avoid public scandal in the drinking of alcohol or wine. They do not have any private supplies of alcohol.
  • They keep their relationship with the people (men & women) genuine, honest, open and trustworthy. They do not engage in sexual harassment or in physical, sexual or emotional abuse of anybody. Any charges against a priest regarding sexual abuse of minors will be taken seriously.If, the fact is proved true, compassion will be shown to the victims and help will be sought for the priest. Victims will be aided in any way necessary. The priest will not be allowed in situations where such behavior could be repeated.
  • Apart from liturgical dress, as priests, they should wear definite clerical dress (Roman collar shirt) or must have an external symbol or sign; so that people may recognize them as priests. Their simple dress, behavior, attitude, gestures should be moderate.

 3. Pastoral Ministries:

  • They are for the people of God and part of them. The principal aim/purpose of their priestly pastoral ministries/services should be the witnessing the Jesus' mission by their words and deeds. They are entrusted with this special responsibility to love Christ, the Church, the Body of Christ, and render their evangelical service to the believing communities; those who are the members of the Body of Christ. They are aware about their threefold office as ordained priests: priestly, prophetic and royal; through these they would witness Jesus' mission in their pastoral and evangelical ministries.They are called as priests to preside, preach, and pastor.
  • They do not promote causes in direct conflict with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church Magisterium. They are obedient and honestly loyal to the Supreme Pontiff and the higher authority of the Catholic Church. Priests never violate, but with humility believe and respectfully put in practice, in obedience and entire fidelity, in an explicit way, steadfastly through their whole life the Tradition and the Doctrine of the Catholic Church.
  • They are assigned/appointed in the parishes/institutions to take pastoral and spiritual care of their people. They are also responsible to work in their respected places as coworkers of their local ordinary/ authority. Their ministries serve the various needs of the people whether Christians or non-Christians. Their administrative authority covers definite territorial area. They are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence through which they dedicate ourselves freely to the service of God and their neighbor (can. 277). As priests they are obviously to be creative in their pastoral ministries in accordance with the needs and the life situations of the people of God; so that they live their lives in gospel values for spiritual growth.They should be creative in seeing the signs of the times and devising ways to meet new and special needs.
  • Priests are obviously responsible for the faith formation and to educate their people. Their evangelical activities are higher priority than any other types of pastoral services/concerns. They are obliged to obey and practice and to teach the authentic teachings of Church Magisterium to their people. They teach whatever they believe and preach to the people.
  • They may be involved in social and economical development activities for their people, but these are not their personal apostolate in accord with their individual interest. All their public service/concerns should be above public criticism and scandal.
  • They see the importance of keeping good and friendly relationships with the people of other faiths and they sincerely make friendship and communion with them having some regular sessions of dialogue. To love their neighbors is to love God which brings effective impact and consequences among all the people of different faiths. (As Jesus says: 'you must love your neighbor as yourself' (Mt. 22:39b).)
  • As priests of Asia and Bangladesh, it is their obligation to live very simple priestly life in the context of their cultures, traditions, languages (and other vernaculars), so that they may bring the Gospel of Jesus to the people at their level of life. It is their responsibility to respect their and other cultures, traditions and languages and to use them for inculturation of their priestly ministries. Their sense of the aesthetic should be promoted so that it may have good impact in people's lives.They want to be seen, in their context, as "men of God."

  4. Spiritual and Sacramental Life:

  • Priests have a special obligation to seek holiness in their lives; since they are consecrated to God and are stewards of the mysteries of God in the service of His people. They are exhorted to engage regularly in mental prayer, to approach the sacrament of penance frequently, to honor the Virgin Mother of God with particular veneration and to use other general and specific special means to holiness (can. 276 # 2, 5).
  • Priests must celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist regularly following the Roman Rite of the Liturgy and rubrics. They celebrate or concelebrate with participation of community or privately. They feel their obligation to be the ministers of the other sacraments and sacramental ministries for their faithful for which they are given authentic spiritual responsibilities by the very nature of the Sacrament of Holy Orders (Ordination of a Priest, The Rights II).
  • They recite the Divine Office according to the Roman calendar for the particular liturgical year and time during the whole day. Apart from this Office prayer, they maintain our personal prayer life by reading the word of God, doing adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, spiritual readings and reciting the Rosary regularly. They make themselves available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation for their parish people and they receive this sacrament frequently (Liturgy of the Hour, no. 29 and Sacrosanctum no. 86).
  • Priests are to nourish their spiritual life at the two-fold table of Sacred Scripture and Eucharist (General Instruction of the Roman Missal- no. 28). Therefore, they are invited to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice daily (Can. 276 # 2.2). They are also obliged to make spiritual retreats in accordance with the provisions of particular law; (can. 276 # 2.4). They are to faithfully and untiringly fulfill the obligations of their pastoral ministry (can. 276 # 2.1 ) For their spiritual nourishment priests should have an obligation in taking active participation in regular recollections and annual retreat.
  • It is their obligation to make someone their individual spiritual director/advisor who will constantly cooperate with them in providing good spiritual direction/guidance to remain faithful and sincere in pastoral ministerial commitments/services. They read spiritual books and the biographies of various saints and martyrs regularly for their spiritual growth.

5. Relational Life:

  • They are responsible to make fraternal relations and friendship with their brother priests both in formal and informal ways. Whenever they are aware of any of their brother priests in need of help; they of course will help him in sufficient ways and should inform the right authority at the proper time. They evaluate the virtues/talents of their brother priests highly. They feel one in Christ, one in His Priesthood in communion and love. Since priests are working for the same purpose, namely the building up of the Body of Christ, they are to be united with one another in the bond of brotherhood and prayer. They are also to seek to cooperate with one another (can. 275 # 1). Priests are obliged to keep a constant relationship and to promote their friendship in communion and love with their fellow priests.
  • Priests have come from a family and have left their parents, brothers and sisters to extend their services for the people as a whole. It is their obligation to keep contact and relationship, with great respect, with their family but they may not be involved too much in their family matters. This can cause public criticism/scandals and tension in their priestly pastoral ministries. Their parents or family members should not demand too much regarding their treatment whenever they are sick since they are under their respective authority.
  • Priests expect their bishops/superiors to visit them frequently and have personal talk/sharing, so that they could know them well and cooperate with them for better priestly life and pastoral services for the people
  • It would be because of their fraternal love and responsibility that they assist and give accompaniment to some problematic/victimized priests, especially those who are in some particular problems or victims of certain critical issues. At the same time it is their obligation to encourage some of their brother priests, those who are always absent in various common program/occasions to faithfully participate. They all are united by the very nature of their priestly ordination and they remain one in Christ, the High Priest.
  • They try to always maintain good relationships with the Sisters with whom they work. They make sure that there is good communication and that their concerns are heard. Sisters also have a right to their pastoral care.
  • We do see the importance of constantly keeping our relationship with our Bishops/Superiors very sincere and open. Bishops/Superiors are responsible to see the needs of their priests and how they are doing their pastoral service/ministries in parishes/institutions. Their observation, relation and evaluation of individual priests in the dioceses should be equal without any discrimination. Bishops/Superiors should visit their priests and extend their whole hearted accompaniment since priests are their coworkers.

 6. Ongoing formation/training:

  • Priests need ongoing formation to make themselves updated persons; which brings a positive impact in pastoral services. Their authority bishops/superiors are attentive and take initiatives to serve this purpose.
  • Priests have to be highly qualified in various fields. The present changing world and the demands of their people make them desire to qualify themselves with knowledge and experiences. Therefore, their bishops/superiors will continue their efforts to educate and highly qualify their priests.
  • They should take part in any type of seminars/trainings on the national or international level to extend their pastoral care for their people with enthusiasm, because priests need various sorts of renewal courses to make themselves energetic and vital in their ministerial services in the diocese.
  • They faithfully and sincerely attend all mandatory functions and meetings called by the diocese.
  • They feel the importance of yearly vacation or sabbatical leave for them as priests. During this time priests may have the opportunity to take part in renewal courses or short time trainings to update themselves. This must be actualized in consultation with Bishops/ superiors.

Conclusion:

Every priest is called by God to serve the people of God. Priestly vocation is the gift of God and it remains unhurt and precious when priests live their lives with some basic disciplines, rules and regulations. Their services should be Christ-centered and rooted in the Gospel values. Their priestly pastoral services witness to Jesus' Mission. Priests are to be loyal to the Church, its teachings, to the Church authority. By the grace of God, they have the example of many priests who have lived and live their priestly life with love, loyalty, and faithfulness.

Promulgated by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB)

February 2014