The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Seven: The Source and Support of the Evangelists and Pastors of the Churches
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But it will be said that even if today the reformation of all the colleges of both universities were accomplished as fully as possible, nevertheless those who rightly should be sent out to preach Christ’s gospel could not go forth from them so quickly. Those, therefore, who are already instructed by the Lord for this function must be sought for throughout the whole realm all the more diligently. It will undoubtedly be found that this will amount to no small number if they are sought in good faith. It will also be fitting that those who are now doing good parish work and have their parishes well established be released for the work of evangelizing for a time, during which period they might be replaced by those who have recently consecrated themselves to the Lord for the sacred ministry.
But another difficulty will be brought up here: Who will pay the expenses for these evangelists? But who else should very obviously have this obligation but those who receive the incomes of parishes where the evangelists will go to preach Christ’s gospel in their stead? And if what is obtained from them for such necessary work is not enough, the remainder will most justly be requested of the bishops, whose proper task it is to send out and support not only evangelists for the churches committed to their charge but also permanent teachers and shepherds. It is also a duty, not a burden, for them to support those who will announce Christ’s gospel in each diocese, and this will be required with even more right because by their negligence it has come about that the churches of Christ have been so long without legitimate ministers and suitable heralds of the gospel and all of Christ’s religion has been so far obliterated among the people as to approximate utter extinction. They also know that they ought to leave all secular business for others to do and not burden themselves with profane ministers, but devote all their resources to this one thing, with all the people they have at their service, that the ministry of Christ be rightly provided to the churches commended to the charge of each of them. Therefore, they should have about them as ministers only those who have dedicated themselves to the ministry and to clerical Discipline.
But after a fair multitude of Christ’s people have assembled on individual feast days in opportune places throughout the realm (which all must do by Your Royal Majesty’s authority), and the gospel of Christ has been as clearly as possible proclaimed and as widely as possible explained, and everything necessary for the full undertaking of Christ’s Kingdom lucidly manifested and very gravely urged (and for this matter a reasonable amount of time must be taken, at a minimum seven or eight feast days, on every one of which two sermons should be delivered), then finally there will have to be trust in the goodness of God that he will give Your Royal Highness a reformation of the churches complete and perfect in all its numbers and parts, as a persuasive argument not only to the Great Council but to all his people, that they both receive it with prompt hearts, and retain it with an abundant fruit of piety.
But meanwhile, attention must be given that whatever well instructed persons the Lord has offered to minister to the parishes be at once placed in charge of those parishes which are without pastoral care, with a mandate to renew the whole doctrine and discipline of Christ in those parishes to which they are sent, according to the manifest precepts of the Lord and the rule based thereon as outlined by Your Majesty and his Supreme Council for religious causes about which I have previously made mention.
That the necessities of life may be supplied for these true pastors of churches in order that they may discharge their sure ministry for the churches of Christ, this will have to be required of those who have parishes incorporated, or appropriated, as they say, or in any other way so controlled that they themselves receive the income. For it is hardly credible that the income of the convents and parishes which Your Royal Majesty’s father awarded to certain individuals should not be sufficiently abundant so that fair stipends could not very easily be given from them to pastors, without any burden on those who now have those incomes. But such stipends will have to be established and regulated through very dedicated and conscientious men whom Your Majesty will have authorized for this very thing.
And if certain parishes cannot be taken care of by this sort of income, then bishops and other wealthier prelates will have to be called upon so that from their abundance they aid the parishes in need. They have left over whatever they have not spent for the sacred ministry of the churches and for the poor. They are not ignorant of the fact that this has been so decreed by both divine and canon law. Let the bishops therefore finally acknowledge their very serious guilt, that they have for so long a time and so horribly not so much neglected as devastated the churches. For they have not done their episcopal duty to them in teaching and in providing them with suitable ministers but have rather given them most unworthy men, and often more than once. Let them strive to make reparations for the great damage they have done to the churches, restoring them by means of their own ministry as well as that of other good men.