Vian: God's Messengers Still Vital in Today's Society

L’Osservatore Director Asks if Priests, Saints Are Needed

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ROME, OCT. 24, 2010 ( The question of whether or not society still needs saints and priests is a radical one, and one that Benedict XVI has answered with a definitive «yes,» says the director of L’Osservatore Romano.

In this week’s English edition of the semi-official Vatican newspaper, Giovanni Maria Vian reflected on the question that Benedict XVI posed twice in the last week — at last Sunday’s canonization ceremony of six saints, as well as in his Oct. 16 letter to seminarians.

Vian noted that the question «concerns God’s presence in the world,» and that it’s importance was understood well by the six newly announced saints of the Church, who let «this presence shine out in all its splendor.»

In the Pope’s letter to seminarians, Vian noted how the Pontiff recalled that in «the darkness of the Nazi fury, people were convinced that in the new Germany priests would no longer be needed.»

«The tone of Benedict XVI’s letter is once again almost confidential and lets a profound personal experience shine out,» the L’Osservatore director reflected. «In the face of the conviction that priests belong to the past, the Pope answers that, on the contrary, today too there is a need for them, that is, as people who exist ‘to serve him and bring him to others.’

«In fact, ‘life grows empty’ if God is no longer perceived. This is why becoming priests is worthwhile, on a journey that one does not make alone this is the wisdom of the seminary but in a community.»

The Pope describes the priest as «a man of God,» Vian noted. However, God is not a distant stranger that left us abandoned after the «big bang,» but rather «one who showed himself in Jesus, the God who is close to us.»

«And the priest, who is not just any kind of administrator, is his messenger,» Vian continued. «For this reason the priest must ‘never lose [his] inner closeness to God.'»

To remain close to God, Vian said the Pope urges prayer. Prayer can be performed in many ways, the Holy Father tells us: start and end each day in prayer; read and listen to Scripture; be aware of one’s sins, but also of the beauty and goodness that one possesses; and celebrate, regularly, the sacraments of both the Holy Eucharist as well as reconciliation.

The newspaper director also noted that Benedict XVI also offered in the letter to seminarians indications that could be useful to every believer, such as a «sensitivity to popular piety,» as well as a dedication to study the Church, its teachings, its structure, the Church Fathers, as well as Church councils. The Pontiff also suggests «an in-depth examination of the various branches of theology, with an orientation to the great religions,» as well as the study of philosophy and canon law.
Vian says that, as expected, the media’s attention to the letter to seminarians was focused on what Benedict XVI would say about the sexual abuse scandal plaguing the Church. But his response to the issue went further, stressing that «the dimension of sexuality must be integrated within the person, for otherwise it becomes banal and destructive.»

Ultimately, the Holy Father’s question has been answered, said Vian. «Priests and Saints, above all, … [radiate] the light of God, who [illuminates] every human being.»

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