Cardinal: It's Time to Reach Out to Ex-Priests

Says Priest-Saints Are Supporting Pope’s Plans for Renewal

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 31, 2009 ( The Year for Priests is also for those men who have left priestly ministry, according to Benedict XVI’s secretary of state.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone made this observation Friday in L’Osservatore Romano, in an interview that also explains how the Year for Priests became a reality.

«I remember that after the synod of bishops on the Word of God, at the Pope’s table there was talk of a proposal that had already come up in the past, of convoking a year of prayer, which was very linked to the reflection on the Word of God,» the cardinal recounted.

Nevertheless, he said, «the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé d’Ars and the situation of the problems that have affected so many priests brought Benedict XVI to declare a Year for Priests.»

With this initiative, Cardinal Bertone affirmed, the Holy Father wants to show «special attention to priests and to priestly vocations» and to promote «a movement within the whole people of God, of a growing affection and closeness to ordained ministers.»

«The Year for Priests is bringing about great enthusiasm in all of the local Churches and an extraordinary movement of prayer, of fraternity with and among priests, and of vocational ministry,» the cardinal added.

He continued, «Moreover, the sometimes weak fabric of dialogue between bishops and priests is being strengthened, and special attention is being given to those priests who have been put to the side in pastoral ministry.»

The year is also a «renewal of contact, fraternal help, and if it is possible, a reuniting with those priests who for various reasons have left behind their priestly ministry,» Cardinal Bertone stated.

Finally, he affirmed, «The holy priests who have been part of the history of the Church will not cease to protect and support this road to renewal that Benedict XVI has proposed.»

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