Priesthood Seen as Gift in Fragile Vessel

Spokesman Reflects on Closing of Year for Priests

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2010 ( The priesthood is a gift of God, but it is carried in jars of clay as the sin of priests makes clear.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, made this reflection during the last edition of Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies.”

The spokesman focused his comments on the Year for Priests, which concluded Friday. He said the closing ceremonies were a “great celebration of the priests of the world with the Pope. The 10,000 or so [priests] who came to Rome represent many others who share the same sentiments. A celebration in faith and in prayer.”

“The Pope,” he continued, “was very clear in firmly inviting us to recognize the priesthood not as a job, a human career, but as a gift of God, of a God who entrusts himself ‘with audacity’ to human beings so that they speak his words of pardon and make him present in the world with his Body and Blood.”

“The Pope said at the vigil that” priests are “men who are ‘drawn’ into him, the person of Christ, toward the world of the resurrection,” the spokesman continued. “They are the witnesses to a world that is not only that of today, in which God is not a part, but rather of the future world that is coming, made present up until now precisely by the words and sacramental acts of the priest.”

“The Pope observed that the scandals of the sexual abuses committed by priests further underscore that the gift of God is hidden in ‘jars of clay,’ as St. Paul says,” Father Lombardi recalled. But the priesthood must be “recognized precisely as a gift and not as human glory, and must be welcomed with humility and courage, guarded with effort, asking the Lord’s protection so that it not be damaged by sin and similar abuses never happen again. Gratitude, humility, confidence, in a perspective of faith.”

“The Church cannot live without the gift of the priesthood,” the Jesuit concluded. “It is necessary to ask God for it with intensity and insistence. The image of the evening adoration in St. Peter’s Square must continue to accompany us.”

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