VATICAN CITY, APRIL 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The world’s largest Catholic country needs well-formed priests, said John Paul II as he met with Brazilian clergy and seminarians studying in Rome.
The Pope today received the rector and superiors and students of the Pontifical Brazilian Pius College, on the occasion of its 70th anniversary.
“The Church in Brazil has need of well-formed ministers of Christ,” the Holy Father said in a message to his guests, which he read in Portuguese.
In recent years, the number of diocesan priests has increased notably in Brazil. In 1985 there were 5,800 diocesan priests, while in 2001 there were 9,462, according to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church.
By contrast, the number of religious priests has decreased, from 7,953 in 1985, to 7,367 in 2001.
The Brazilian College, founded by Pope XI on April 3, 1934, “offers a propitious environment for more ample academic and spiritual formation, so necessary in your priestly mission,” John Paul II said.
“Residence for some years in Rome offers you many possibilities to come into contact with the historical memories of the first centuries of Christianity, to open yourselves to the universal dimension of the Church, to foment ecclesial communion and a good disposition to accept the teachings of the magisterium,” he added.
The Brazilian College also accepts priests and seminarians from other countries of Latin America, as well as Africa, Oceania and Europe.