Today's Priests Must Be Joyful, Says Pontiff

Sends Video Message to Group on Retreat in Ars

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 29, 2009 ( Today, more than ever, a priest must be a man of joy and hope, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made this reflection in a video message he sent to a group of priests who are on retreat in Ars, France. The international group is at the site of St. John Vianney’s parish in the context of the Year for Priests and the saint’s 150th anniversary.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria, is preaching the seven-day retreat, which ends Sunday. 

“The priest, man of the divine Word and of sacred things, must be today, more than ever, a man of joy and hope,” the Holy Father affirmed. “To men who can no longer conceive that God is pure Love, he will always affirm that life is worth living, and that Christ gives it all its meaning because he loves men, all men.”

The Pontiff said the patron of parish priests had a “religion of joy,” not a “morbid seeking of mortification, as sometimes has been believed.”

In that regard, he cited one of St. John Vianney’s sayings: “Our happiness is too great, no, no, we will never be able to understand it.”

Benedict XVi said that it is an awareness of the priest’s own weakness that opens him to intimacy with God. And it is God who “gives us strength and joy.”

“The more the priest perseveres in friendship with God, the more he will continue the work of the Redeemer on earth,” the Holy Father said, again referring to John Vianney. “The priest is no longer for himself, but for all.”

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On ZENIT’s Web site:

A translation of the Pope’s video message:

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