Monday, March 16, 2009

Pope Benedict to Congregation for Clergy: Priesthood without Discontinuity

Fr. Z has done a quick translation of an address given at the Congregation for the Clergy by Pope Benedict.

Some of this is almost jaw-dropping - not just because of what is acknowledged, but becaue of who is acknowledging it. These are things people have openly discussed in various circles in the Church (and in not a few quiet corners), but hearing it from the Pope is.....well....refreshing. He gets it. Now he's trying to help others to get it.

I'm using Fr. Z's original emphases in bold:

A grasp of the radical social changes of the last decades must move our better ecclesial energies to take care for the formation of candidates for ministry. In particular, it must stimulate constant solicitude of Pastors toward their first collaborators, either cultivating truly paternal human relations, or concerning themselves with their continuing formation, above all in the matter of doctrine. The mission has its roots in a special way in a good formation, developed in communion with the uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition, without breaks or temptations to discontinuity. In such a sense, it is important to foster in priests, above all in younger generations, a correct reception of the texts of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, interpreted in the light of the whole doctrinal train of of the Church. There appears to be an urgent need for the recovery of that awareness which drives priests to be present, identifiable and recognizable both for their judgment of faith, and for their personal virtue, and also for their dress (abito), in ambients of culture and of charity, which have ever been at the heart of the mission of the Church.

As a Church and as priests we proclaim Jesus of Nazareth is Lord and Christ, crucifed and risen, King of time and history, in the happy certainty that such a truth coincides with the deepest desires of man’s heart. In the ministry of the incarnation of the Word, in that fact that God became man like us, there is situated both the content and the method of the Christian message. The mission has here its true driving core: namely, in Jesus Christ. The centrality of Christ brings with itself the proper evaluation of the priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, nor, much less, the mission of the same Church. In this sense it is necessary to be vigilant that "new structures" or pastoral organizations are not considered for a time which one must "do without" ordained ministry, starting from the erroneous interpretation of a right promotion of the laity, for in such a case presuppositions would be advanced for the further dilution of the priestly ministry and the eventual presumed "solutions" would come dramatically to coincide with the real causes of the present challenges bound up with ministry.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!