Church Readies for a Renewal, Starting Friday

Spokesman Says Year for Priests Important for Laity Too

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A renewal of the Church is starting this Friday — a renewal to be brought about through the sanctification of priests, according to a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, affirmed this when he reflected on the Year for Priests, convoked by Benedict XVI, and starting with this Friday’s feast of the Sacred Heart.

During the reflection, made on the most recent episode of Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies, Father Lombardi noted how the Holy Father often gives a rosary to priests who come to visit him, saying, “Even priests must remember to pray!”

“These words came to mind when the Pope announced the ‘Year for Priests,’ which is about to begin [and coincides with] the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, the holy Curé of Ars, a splendid model for all priests of spirituality and zeal, above all if they are engaged in pastoral work,” the spokesman said.

He went on to recall how the Pope has publicly warned against neglecting prayer for work or because of worries: “It is always easy to reduce prayer to superficial moments and rush it, letting yourself be overwhelmed by activities and human worries.”

In this context, Father Lombardi cited words from the Curé of Ars: “There are some who seem to speak to the Good Lord in this way: ‘I only have two things to say to you, so I will do it quickly and then be on my way.'”

“If the problem of union with God confronts all Christians, it especially confronts priests, who are sought after by everyone at all times and whose number is diminishing or remains small in the face of all the demands,” the Jesuit observed. “Obviously, the holiness of priests is first of all their responsibility, but it also concerns the whole community of the faithful. It only takes a few unworthy priests to profoundly harm the credibility of the Church.

“And on the other hand the spiritual solidarity of the community is a powerful support for their spiritual and apostolic life. In sum, the ‘Year for Priests’ is important not only for priests but for everyone.”

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