My third and last post on this subject is to take priestly fraternity to another level and into an area of a priest's life which is somewhat neglected: accountability.
A priest is obviously accountable to his bishop and, in a different way, to his parish or pastoral community. This still leaves huge areas of a priest's life where he is, in many ways, his own agent. A priest does not account to his bishop on a day to day basis, nor necessarily on a year to year basis. Nor can a priest really discuss his life and his personal situation with his parishioners. But what about with his brother priests?
Accountability through priestly fraternity enables the whole spectrum of a priest's life, from the way he spends his days off to the frustrations and misunderstandings that arise in his life, to be enlightened in a human and a priestly way through fraternity. Accountability through fraternity does presuppose that a priest is a part of a genuine fraternity in which priests invest much of themselves. In such a context, life-sharing by brother priests enables re-evaluation and appropriation of the stuff of their lives to take place in a life-giving way.
Accountability through fraternity takes place through the genuine maturing of priestly fraternity and will inevitably lead to a deepening of the priestly interior life and apostolic vision. In a similar way, Bishops' Conferences can be the context for such a culture to develop.
And while I wish for all of you the grace to rekindle daily the gift of God you have received with the laying on of hands (cf. 2 Tm. 1:6), to feel the comfort of the deep friendship which binds you to Jesus and unites you with one another, the comfort of experiencing the joy of seeing the flock of God grow in an ever greater love for him and for all people, of cultivating the tranquil conviction that the one who began in you the good work will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (cf. Phil. 1:6), l turn with each and every one of you in prayer to Mary, Mother and Teacher of our priesthood.Every aspect of priestly formation can be referred to Mary, the human being who has responded better than any other to God's call. (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 82)