VATICAN CITY, JUNE 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The priesthood
is a gift for humanity, but it is
enduring more than a few difficulties, and the newly inaugurated
Year for Priests aims to address that, says
a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi,
director of the Vatican press office, spoke of the Year
for Priests during the most recent edition of
Vatican Television´s "Octava Dies."
"The priest´s service
is of fundamental importance in the life of
the Church," he said. "But it is a mystery that
today endures not just a few difficulties."
Father Lombardi affirmed that the Year for Priests, which
began Friday and runs through next June, responds to
struggles caused by various factors: "the general climate
of secularization in vast regions of the world, a
lessened appreciation for the role of the priest in
society, the deep wounds inflicted on the public
image of priests due to unworthy behavior by some of
them, and even the worthy valuing of the
lay vocation in the Church."
these difficulties, the spokesman continued, "the Pope does
not respond with socio-religious considerations, but by promoting a
commitment to interior renewal on the part of all
priests, so that their Gospel testimony in the
world of today is more intense and weighty."
XVI´s letter to priests, with which he inaugurated
the year, "does not begin from the external,
but from the heart of the priestly vocation, from the
concrete model of priestly sanctity that is offered
us by the holy Curé d´Ars, St. John
Vianney," Father Lombardi observed.
"It can almost look like
a provocation to present as a spiritual reference
point to priests of all the world this
pastor who lived in a small French town of 200
people, who died 150 years ago," he contended.
"But if the priest truly lives from the Eucharist and
from service to the reconciliation between God and
man, that is, from the manifestation of the
mercy of God, then time and place become
That´s why the Pope´s letter to priests, Father
Lombardi said, "has a deep touch of spirituality,
a great feeling of love for Jesus and
for people, particularly for those that are spiritually far from
God or in difficulties."
"Is it not
true that there is an urgent and tremendous
need for this love that tries to make itself present
in the heart of every person?" he asked.
"That´s why the Pope speaks of the priest as a
gift to the Church and to humanity itself."