Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Benedict XVI on the priesthood

Comment: it is refreshing to see the Holy Father's great clarity of mind and his grasp of the processes undermining the priesthood. Here are some remarks from a recent speach, translated by Fr Z (my emphasis):

A grasp of the radical social changes of the last decades must move our better ecclesial energies to take care for the formation of candidates for ministry. In particular, it must stimulate constant solicitude of Pastors toward their first collaborators, either cultivating truly paternal human relations, or concerning themselves with their continuing formation, above all in the matter of doctrine. The mission has its roots in a special way in a good formation, developed in communion with the uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition, without breaks or temptations to discontinuity. In such a sense, it is important to foster in priests, above all in younger generations, a correct reception of the texts of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, interpreted in the light of the whole doctrinal train of of the Church. There appears to be an urgent need for the recovery of that awareness which drives priests to be present, identifiable and recognizable both for their judgment of faith, and for their personal virtue, and also for their dress (abito), in ambients of culture and of charity, which have ever been at the heart of the mission of the Church.

As a Church and as priests we proclaim Jesus of Nazareth is Lord and Christ, crucifed and risen, King of time and history, in the happy certainty that such a truth coincides with the deepest desires of man’s heart. In the ministry of the incarnation of the Word, in that fact that God became man like us, there is situated both the content and the method of the Christian message. The mission has here its true driving core: namely, in Jesus Christ. The centrality of Christ brings with itself the proper evaluation of the priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, nor, much less, the mission of the same Church. In this sense it is necessary to be vigilant that "new structures" or pastoral organizations are not considered for a time which one must "do without" ordained ministry, starting from the erroneous interpretation of a right promotion of the laity, for in such a case presuppositions would be advanced for the further dilution of the priestly ministry and the eventual presumed "solutions" would come dramatically to coincide with the real causes of the present challenges bound up with ministry.

Notice this at the end: the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, lay-led 'eucharistic services', the clustering of parishes without a parish priest: these and other initiatives are not solutions to the shortage of priests by body-blows to the understanding of the priesthood which has to lie behind vocations.

This directly contradicts views constantly repeated in semi-official ways by the Church's buearocracy. Don't let them get away with it!

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen