Pope: North American College Trains Worthy Priests

Addresses Institute on Its 150th Anniversary

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI encouraged the Pontifical North American College to continue forming «wise and generous» priests who are capable of helping America’s Catholics to be a leaven of the Gospel in society.

The Pope said this today upon receiving in audience at the Vatican the superiors, students and alumni of the college, who had gathered in Rome for an alumni weekend to celebrate the institute’s 150th anniversary.

Pius IX formally inaugurated the national seminary of the United States on Dec. 8, 1859, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and patroness of the United States.

The Holy Father praised the college for remaining «faithful to its founding vision by training generations of worthy preachers of the Gospel and ministers of the sacraments, devoted to the Successor of Peter and committed to the building up of the Church in the United States of America.»

Noting that the Church is currently celebrating the Year for Priests, he said it was appropriate to «give thanks for the academic and spiritual formation which has nourished your priestly ministry over the years.»

«The present reunion is an opportunity not only to remember with gratitude the time of your studies, but also to reaffirm your filial affection for the Church of Rome, to recall the apostolic labors of the countless alumni who have gone before you, and to recommit yourselves to the high ideals of holiness, fidelity and pastoral zeal which you embraced on the day of your ordination,» he said.

«It is likewise an occasion to renew your love for the College and your appreciation of its distinctive mission to the Church in your country,» the Pontiff added.

A mission

Benedict XVI recalled his homily at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., during his 2008 pastoral visit to the United States, in which he expressed his conviction that the Church in America is called to cultivate «an intellectual ‘culture’ which is genuinely Catholic, confident in the profound harmony of faith and reason, and prepared to bring the richness of faith’s vision to bear on the pressing issues which affect the future of American society.»

«As Blessed Pius IX rightly foresaw, the Pontifical North American College in Rome is uniquely prepared to help meet this perennial challenge,» the Pope added.

He continued: «In the century and a half since its foundation, the College has offered its students an exceptional experience of the universality of the Church, the breadth of her intellectual and spiritual tradition, and the urgency of her mandate to bring Christ’s saving truth to the men and women of every time and place.

«I am confident that, by emphasizing these hallmarks of a Roman education in every aspect of its program of formation, the College will continue to produce wise and generous pastors capable of transmitting the Catholic faith in its integrity, bringing Christ’s infinite mercy to the weak and the lost, and enabling America’s Catholics to be a leaven of the Gospel in the social, political and cultural life of their nation.»

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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-28002?l=english

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