Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Non iam dicam servos, sed amicos”  - “I no longer call you servants, but friends” (cf. Jn 15:15).

Sixty years on from the day of my priestly ordination, I hear once again deep within me these words of Jesus that were addressed to us new priests at the end of the ordination ceremony by the Archbishop, Cardinal Faulhaber, in his slightly frail yet firm voice.  According to the liturgical practice of that time, these words conferred on the newly-ordained priests the authority to forgive sins. “No longer servants, but friends”: at that moment I knew deep down that these words were no mere formality, nor were they simply a quotation from Scripture.  I knew that, at that moment, the Lord himself was speaking to me in a very personal way.  In baptism and confirmation he had already drawn us close to him, he had already received us into God’s family.  But what was taking place now was something greater still.  He calls me his friend.

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
Vatican Basilica
, 29 June 2011

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Dear Brothers in the episcopal and priestly ministry,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This moment fills me with joy and gratitude (…) - I am also grateful to be able at last to return to Freising Cathedral (…) Now that I am back in this Cathedral many memories come to me as I see before me my old companions, and also the young priests who are handing on the message, the torch of the faith. Memories of my ordination (…) Here I lay prostrate, enveloped by the litany of all the saints, by the intercession of all the saints.  I realized that on this path we are not alone, that the great multitude of saints walk with us, and the living saints, the faithful of today and tomorrow, sustain us and walk with us. Then came the laying on of hands, and finally Cardinal Faulhaber proclaimed to us: “Iam non dico vos servos sed amicos” -“I do not call you servants, but friends”; at that moment, I experienced my priestly ordination as an initiation into the community of Jesus’ friends, called to be with him and to proclaim his message.

Cathedral of St Mary and St Corbinian, Freising
Thursday, 14 September 2006