The Church Is Proud of Its Priests, Says Cardinal

Calls on Dioceses to Celebrate Year for Ordained Ministers

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2009 ( The prefect for the Congregation for Clergy is urging the local churches to plan events to celebrate and show appreciation for priests.

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes affirmed this in a letter released today for the Year of Priests, which will be inaugurated June 19, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

Benedict XVI announced this year as a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the Curé of Ars.

The cardinal noted that this year should be «both positive and forward looking,» a time for the Church to say to its priests, «but also to all the faithful and to wider society by means of the mass media, that it is proud of its priests, loves them, honors them, admires them and that it recognizes with gratitude their pastoral work and the witness of the their life.»

He affirmed that priests are important «not only for what they do but also for who they are.»

«Sadly,» the prefect said, «it is true that at the present time some priests have been shown to have been involved in gravely problematic and unfortunate situations.»

However, he noted, it is important to remember that these pertain to a «very small portion of the clergy.»

Sacred ministry

The cardinal continued: «The overwhelming majority of priests are people of great personal integrity, dedicated to the sacred ministry; men of prayer and of pastoral charity, who invest their entire existence in the fulfillment of their vocation and mission, often through great personal sacrifice, but always with an authentic love towards Jesus Christ, the Church and the people, in solidarity with the poor and the suffering.

«It is for this reason that the Church is proud of her priests wherever they may be found.»

He expressed the hope that this year will be a time of «intense appreciation of the priestly identity» and of the «extraordinary meaning of the vocation and mission of priests within the Church and in society.»

To this end, he called for reflection on the priesthood through study opportunities, days of recollection, spiritual exercises, conferences and seminars, research and publications.

The prefect affirmed that this year must be «a year of prayer by priests, with priests and for priests, a year for the renewal of the spirituality of the presbyterate and of each priest.»

At the heart of this priestly spirituality, he said, is the Eucharist.

Cardinal Hummes called for attention to the material sustenance of clergy «since they live, at times, in situations of great poverty and hardship in many parts of the world.»


He also encouraged the Catholic community to «pray, to reflect, to celebrate, and justly to give honor to their priests.»

May it be an opportunity, he said, «to develop the communion and friendship between priests and the communities entrusted to their care.»

The prefect urged the local churches and dioceses to establish a program for the year «at the earliest opportunity» and to plan a «notable event» for its inauguration.

He invited the churches to join the Pope on June 19 «to participate in the opening of the year, ideally by some particular liturgical act and festivity.»

The cardinal added an invitation to «those who are able» to come to Rome for the inauguration, «to manifest their own participation in this happy initiative of the Pope.»

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