Good Priests Have to Hit the Books, Says Pope

Recalls the Importance of Study, Preparation for Ministry

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2010 ( Those who minister the Word of God must be well prepared, and the “cultural dimension” of faith needs to be cultivated, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today when he reflected on the life and teaching of St. Dominic Guzmán during the general audience in Paul VI Hall. He noted “the great contribution made by St. Dominic to the renewal of the Church in the Middle Ages.”

The Holy Father emphasized the saint’s insistence on being well educated and prepared for the apostolate.

Benedict XVI took up this exhortation, urging everyone, “pastors and laity, to cultivate this ‘cultural dimension’ of faith, so that the beauty of the Christian truth can be better understood and faith can be truly nourished, reinforced and also defended. In this Year for Priests, I invite seminarians and priests to appreciate the spiritual value of study.

“The quality of the priestly ministry depends also on the generosity with which one applies oneself to the study of revealed truths.”

Evangelizing and re-evangelizing

The Pontiff recalled how Dominic found inspiration to found the Order of Preachers while doing missions throughout Europe with his bishop.

This “drew his attention to the need for sound and zealous preachers to bring the Gospel to the people,” he said. Dominic saw the need to evangelize those who had never heard of Christ, and to re-evangelize those wavering under the influence of heresy.

Dominic was assigned the task of refuting the Albigensian heresy, which proposed the idea of two equally powerful principles of Good and Evil. The heresy led its followers to deny “the incarnation of Christ, the resurrection of the body and the value of marriage and the sacraments,” the Pontiff noted.

The saint himself espoused poverty and founded the Order of Preachers, emphasizing “theological study, prayer and community life for his friars,” the Pope said.

He continued, “Thus fortified, [the friars] would be sent out on missions as itinerant, mendicant preachers. Hence the Dominican motto, ‘contemplata aliis tradere’ — to hand on to others the fruits of contemplation.”

The Bishop of Rome affirmed that Dominic “reminds us that theology has a spiritual and pastoral dimension, which enriches the spirit and life. Priests, consecrated persons and also all the faithful can find a profound ‘interior joy’ in contemplating the beauty of the truth that comes from God, truth that is always up-to-date and always living.”

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