VATICAN CITY, MARCH 18, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The more de-Christianized society becomes, the greater the need there is for priests of “radical faith,” says John Paul II.
The Holy Father today was addressing candidates to the priesthood who are studying in the St. Pius X Seminary of the Archdiocese of Catanzaro, Italy. On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the seminary, the Pontiff reminded his listeners that the first condition for those called to the priesthood is “radical” love for Christ.
The Pope repeated the word “radical” several times during the meeting.
“Above all today, in a society characterized by the phenomenon of secularization, it is necessary to have clarity of purpose and firmness of will, which flow directly from the genuine sources of the Gospel,” the Holy Father said.
“The more people are de-Christianized, the more they are prey to uncertainty or indifference, the more necessary it is for them to see in the person of priests that radical faith that is like a beacon in the night or a rock to hold onto,” he added.
According to the Pope, the challenge the Church faces in the formation of future priests is its capacity to “offer those youths a real and committed way of faith that, without taking anything for granted, makes them capable of accepting in truth the mystery of the person of Jesus.”
In other words, they must be able to “recognize in him the Son of the living God and the Lord of history, and to follow him ever more generously,” the Pope emphasized.
In order to attain this objective, future priests should be devoted to “silence and prayer,” which “offer the proper horizon in which the authentic, ardent, and consistent knowledge of the mystery” of Jesus can mature and develop, the Holy Father said.
In this context, John Paul II stressed the importance of the academic formation of future priests. It must be an “instrument of sapiential and scientific learning,” capable “of founding and consolidating the whole edifice of the spiritual and pastoral formation of future presbyters.”
So, this period of formation will be “a special time of silence and waiting, of poverty and communion, of search for God and love of brothers, in particular of the last, making of the seminary community a privileged expression of the Church,” John Paul II concluded.