KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, APRIL 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The president of Aid to the Church in Need is thanking Benedict XVI for proclaiming a year for priests, and is affirming the agency’s support for all ordained ministers.
Father Joaquín Alliende, president of the international aid agency, wrote, “Holy Father, we wish to support you and all the priests in the world during this Year for Priests and to sustain you through our prayers, our life and our work.”
The Year for Priests proclaimed by the Pope will begin on June 19 and end on the same day next year.
The agency’s president expressed the hope that this year will be a time “of great gratitude for priests and for their vocation and a new discovery of the priestly identity, not only for the priests themselves but for the entire Church.”
He noted the opportunity that this year provides, to “help priests to rediscover the beauty of their vocation and give them a new faith in their priesthood.”
The priest affirmed that those is this vocation are “never alone,” as each one lives “in a vital bond with Christ, who shares everything with him — all his treasures, but also his loneliness and his sacrifice for the redemption of the world.”
He recalled the thousands of priests worldwide that “are sharing the poverty of the poor, especially in the current financial crisis,” as well as those that are persecuted, threatened and deprived of freedom for their faith. Father Alliende noted that the aid agency strives to accompany these priests on all the continents.
He said that he prayers that lay people also may “rediscover the gift of the priesthood and learn to treasure it” and thus go, “through their priests, to the Heart of God.”
“Pastoral ministry is impossible” without priests, affirmed Father Alliende, and each one can be valued as “the most important man on earth, since as an alter Christus, he holds the life of the Church in his hands.”
The agency’s president noted that “through the charism of its founder, Father Werenfried van Straaten,” the organization “is profoundly imbued with the priestly character of the Church.”
He explained that the founder understood that “as a pastoral charity, we can only truly ease human suffering if we work together with, and for priests,” and thus is has been an agency priority to support priestly training throughout 150 countries.
Father Alliende affirmed that Christ has “taken a great risk in entrusting such a sacred and sensitive mission into human hands,” and that given recent “painful events,” this year is a call for everyone to “rediscover a purified vision of the priesthood.”