Cardinal Hummes said in Saturday's edition of the Vatican newspaper that priests have never been perfect "because we are all sinners," but that "recently, very serious facts have been reported." But, he affirmed, less than 1% of priests are unfaithful to their commitment of celibacy.
Still, he said, all priests need "spiritual help in order to live their own vocation and mission in today’s world."
"We have proposed to bishops that they promote in their dioceses authentic 'cenacles' in which consecrated and laity are dedicated -- united in a spirit of true communion -- to prayer in the form of continuous Eucharistic adoration," the cardinal explained.
The objective is that "from every corner of the earth, prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, petition and reparation will always be lifted to God -- an incessant prayer in order to raise up a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priesthood, and together with this, to accompany them spiritually, with a type of spiritual motherhood," he added.
Women religious have a special role to play in aiding priests: "Following the example of Mary, feminine consecrated souls can spiritually adopt priests to help them with their surrender, prayer and penance."
The cardinal contended that the vocation to be a spiritual mother of priests is "too little known, barely understood, and because of this, rarely lived, in spite of its fundamental and vital importance."
"Regardless of age and marital status, all women can become spiritual mothers for a priest," he explained. He said the commitment implies praying "for a specific priest and thus accompanying him for life," usually anonymously.
Cardinal Hummes added, "This, as history tells us, produces great spiritual fruits for priests" who "spend their whole life, even with their limits, for God and for their neighbor […] preaching and cultivating the good, helping people."
In a society in which the predominant culture is "very critical of" religion, and frequently acts "as if faith was disappearing," the cardinal affirmed that all Christians are called to pray for their ministers, conscious that priests "are the greatest benefactors of humanity."