Work of Laity Can´t Make Up for Lack of Vocations, Pope Says

Sees Decline of Faith Behind the Crisis

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2002 ( The main reason for the lack of vocations is the diminishing faith among people, John Paul II said today when he met with priests from his diocese of Rome.

«We know that the decrease of vocations in a diocese or nation is often the consequence of a lessening of the intensity of faith and spiritual fervor,» the Pontiff said during his traditional meeting with the Roman clergy at the start of Lent.

The Holy Father was referring in particular to the crisis in vocations following the Second Vatican Council, a problem still evident in the West. To an extent, the crisis has been overcome by the Church worldwide, thanks in part to Africa, Latin America and some Asian countries, according to figures in the Annuario Pontificio 2002, the pontifical yearbook.

«We must not be easily satisfied with the explanation which says that the lack of priestly vocations can be compensated by the growth in the apostolic commitment of the laity, or that it is willed by Providence to foster the growth of the laity,» John Paul II warned.

«On the contrary, the more numerous the laity who want to live their own baptismal vocation with generosity, the more necessary is the presence and specific work of the ordained ministers,» John Paul II continued.

The Holy Father said he did not intend to deny the difficulties that create obstacles «in a good part of the Western world to give a positive response to the Lord´s call.»

Specifically, John Paul II explained that it has become difficult for young people to «undertake great and committed plans of life,» and even more so, to respond to a «plan of love» of God.

Therefore, the Pope called for a «great common commitment, which challenges the laity, priests and religious, and consists in rediscovering that dimension of our faith according to which life itself, all human life, is the fruit of God´s call, and can only be positively realized in response to this call.»

At the end of his formal address, John Paul II recalled his concern for the seminary when he was archbishop of Krakow.

According to the Pontiff, the seminary must be «pupilla oculi» of the bishop [the apple of his eye].

«I hope that all the Bishops of Rome, those who will come after me, and all the bishops of the world will uphold this principle and look with hope through this ´pupilla oculi.´ May vocations not be lacking!» John Paul II exclaimed.

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