VATICAN - Year of the Priest "must be a year that is both positive and forward looking in which the Church says to her priests above all, but also to all the Faithful and to wider society by means of the mass media, that she is proud of her priests, loves them, honors them, admires them." Letter from Cardinal Hummes.
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "The Year for Priests, announced by our beloved
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The Cardinal continues: "It must be a year that is both positive and forward looking in which the Church says to her priests above all, but also to all the Faithful and to wider society by means of the mass media, that she is proud of her priests, loves them, honours them, admires them and that she recognizes with gratitude their pastoral work and the witness of the their life." While the priests "are important not only for what they do but also for who they are," the Cardinal mentions that "some priests have been shown to have been involved in gravely problematic and unfortunate situations," and obviously, "it is necessary to investigate these matters, pursue judicial processes and impose penalties accordingly. However, it is also important to keep in mind that these pertain to a very small portion of the clergy. The overwhelming majority of priests are people of great personal integrity, dedicated to the sacred ministry; men of prayer and of pastoral charity."
Among the objectives of this Year, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy mentions "intense appreciation of the priestly identity, of the theology of the Catholic priesthood, and of the extraordinary meaning of the vocation and mission of priests within the Church and in society." He also expresses the hope that it will be a "year in which the concrete circumstances and the material sustenance of the clergy will be considered, since they live, at times, in situations of great poverty and hardship ," and "a year as well of religious and of public celebration which will bring the people – the local Catholic community – to pray, to reflect, to celebrate, and justly to give honor to their priests."
The Letter concludes with an invitation to all the Bishops' Conferences, dioceses, parishes, and local communities, to prepare a program for this special Year. "The local Churches are invited on the 19th June next, the same day on which the Holy Father will inaugurate the Year for Priests in Rome, to participate in the opening of the Year, ideally by some particular liturgical act and festivity. Let those who are able most surely come to Rome for the inauguration, to manifest their own participation in this happy initiative of the Pope."
Cardinal Claudio Hummes. Image via Wikipedia
(SL) (Agenzia Fides 28/5/2009)
Complete text of the Letter, in various languages