The Holy Father’s Letter for the Year for Priests has been issued.
I have the text and some comments on this page.
I may update that page from time to time.
Here is the first part….
Dear Brother Priests,
On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 – a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy –, I have decided to inaugurate a “Year for Priests” in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the “dies natalis” [Latin for "birthday", meaning the "day of that saint's birth into heaven"] of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide.1 [His PURPOSE for the Year...] This Year, meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world, will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010. [Here is a key to understanding Pope Benedict's Pontificate: He want's to strengthen the Church's identity so that she can be effective in the public square. That cannot be done without priests.] The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus”, the saintly Curé of Ars would often say.2 This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. [Priests represent this gift.] I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life. How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labours, their tireless and hidden service, their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as “friends of Christ”, whom he has called by name, chosen and sent? [This is a very personal project for Pope Benedict.]
I still treasure the memory of the first parish priest at whose side I exercised my ministry as a young priest: he left me an example of unreserved devotion to his pastoral duties, even to meeting death in the act of bringing viaticum to a gravely ill person. [Here is a note to priests who have parishes which also have assistant pastors. The Holy Father is talking to you. Consider what sort of man merited this praise in a papal letter. Do you stack up?] I also recall the countless confreres whom I have met and continue to meet, not least in my pastoral visits to different countries: men generously dedicated to the daily exercise of their priestly ministry. Yet the expression of Saint John Mary also makes us think of Christ’s pierced Heart and the crown of thorns which surrounds it. [He merges the example of the saint and the theme of the feast.] I am also led to think, therefore, of the countless situations of suffering endured by many priests, either because they themselves share in the manifold human experience of pain or because they encounter misunderstanding from the very persons to whom they minister. How can we not also think of all those priests who are offended in their dignity, obstructed in their mission and persecuted, even at times to offering the supreme testimony of their own blood?
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Find the text and some comments on this page.