Pope Benedict XVI Declares Year for Priests
During the assembly of the members of the Congregation for the Clergy on March 16, Pope Benedict declared a Year for Priests to begin June 19 this year, the date of the 150th anniversary of the death of Saint John Vianney, the Curé of Ars. In his address to the assembly, the pope observed that there must be sound formation of men for the priesthood, and said that priests’ mission in the Church is to bring God to the people:
God is the only treasure which ultimately people desire to find in a priest. The mission is “communional” because it is carried out in a unity and communion that only secondly has also important aspects of social visibility. Moreover, these derive essentially from that divine intimacy in which the priest is called to be expert, so that he may be able to lead the souls entrusted to him humbly and trustingly to the same encounter with the Lord. Lastly, the “hierarchical” and “doctrinal” dimensions suggest reaffirming the importance of the ecclesiastical discipline (the term has a connection with “disciple”) and doctrinal training and not only theological, initial and continuing formation.
Awareness of the radical social changes that have occurred in recent decades must motivate the best ecclesial forces to supervise the formation of candidates for the ministry. In particular, it must foster the constant concern of Pastors for their principal collaborators, both by cultivating truly fatherly human relations and by taking an interest in their continuing formation, especially from the doctrinal and spiritual viewpoints. The mission is rooted in a special way in a good formation, developed in communion with uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition, without breaks or temptations of irregularity. In this sense, it is important to encourage in priests, especially in the young generations, a correct reception of the texts of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, interpreted in the light of the Church’s entire fund of doctrine. It seems urgent to recover that awareness that has always been at the heart of the Church’s mission, which impels priests to be present, identifiable and recognizable both for their judgement of faith, for their personal virtues as well as for the habit, in the contexts of culture and of charity.
During this Year for Priests, a “Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors” will be published. A plenary indulgence may be granted to priests and faithful during the Year for Priests, according to a decree released May 12, signed by Cardinal James Stafford of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
The Year for Priests will close June 19, 2010, with Pope Benedict presiding at a World Meeting of Priests in St. Peter’s Piazza.
For prayers and related items, see the Prayer for Priests section on the WFF web site: www.wf-f.org/Priests-prayer.html.
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