QUAERITUR: Closing of Year for Priests, June 11 or June 19?

From a priest reader:

I’d like to point out a discrepancy, with the hopes that your wide outreach might bring about a clarification.

The discrepancy concerns the closing date for the “Year for Priests”.  The Holy Father says [LINK] that the Year “will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010”, that solemnity being the same one on which it began (the Sacred Heart, which in 2009 was June 19).  In 2010, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart will fall on June 11, 2010.

However, the Apostolic Penitentiary as far back as April 25, 2009 says [LINK] that the closing date will be June 19, 2010 (a year from the DATE of the opening).  This date has been picked up by the USCCB [LINK].

Meanwhile, the Congregation for Clergy’s site [LINK] gives the closing date as June 11, 2010.

Two dicasteries of the Holy See which are central to this special Year seem to have different dates.

I suspect that the correct date is 11 June, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, since that is what the Congregation for Clergy says and it is what the Holy Father intimated in "on the same solemnity".

If that is so, then the USCCB has the wrong date.

I hope we can get some clarity soon.

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8 Responses to QUAERITUR: Closing of Year for Priests, June 11 or June 19?

  1. Mac McLernon says:

    I thought it was linked to the anniversary of St. John Vianney’s death, which is 19 June… and it just happened to be on the Feast of the Sacred Heart this year (2009)

  2. Mac McLernon says:

    …having followed your links, I see that it was the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, but maybe that explains the confusion…

  3. pelerin says:

    I thought St Jean Marie Vianney died on August 4th?

  4. Greg Smisek says:

    Yes, dates have been confusing on this one. I presume Pope Benedict simply changed his mind.

    Pope Benedict XVI first announced his intention to proclaim a priestly year in his address to the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy, 16 March 2009. At that time, he explicitly said it would end 19 June 2010:

    Precisely to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends, I have decided to establish a special “Year for Priests” that will begin on 19 June and last until 19 June 2010. In fact, it is the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Curé d’Ars, John Mary Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ’s flock.

    The Apostolic Penitiary’s decree “Special Indulgence for the Year for Priests,” dated 25 March 2009, repeats this closing date:

    …the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has established that for this occasion a special Year for Priests will be celebrated, from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010

    But when Pope Benedict actually proclaimed the Year, which he did in his letter to priests proclaiming a Year for Priests on the 150th anniversary of the “dies natalis” of the Curé of Ars, dated 16 June 2009, he changed the ending date:

    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” of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide. This Year … will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010.

    The solemnity of the Sacred Heart falls on 11 June in 2010. The change in date is there in Italian and English — it’s not just a translation glitch. You will find that the closing date of June 11 is given in the Congregation for the Clergy’s Annus Sacerdotalis website. It makes eminent sense to begin and end on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart, which has been promoted by the Congregation for the Clergy in recent years as the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

    Some trivia: Holy Years aren’t necessarily exactly a calendar year, as we last witnessed in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 (24 December 1999 to 6 January 2001). And this isn’t the first Holy Year to have some date switching. Pope John Paul II proclaimed that the Year of the Eucharist would start with the opening of the International Eucharistic Congress, 10 October 2004, and end with the close of the Synod of Bishops, which originally was scheduled for 29 October 2005. But then Pope Benedict assumed the Chair of Peter and shortened the Synod’s schedule, so its new closing date became 23 October 2005.

    The death of the Curé of Ars was August 4, 1859. This Holy Year was selected so that the 150th anniversary of his death falls within it, because the Universal Pastor wanted the life and example of this holy patron of parish pastors to be the touchstone for this Year.

  5. Rellis says:

    Is it possible that the switch was made by the Holy Father or at the suggestion of someone in the curia to avoid the “calendar wars” between ordinary and extraordinary form Latin Rite Catholics? The memorial of the Cure d’Ars is on different days in the 1961 and 1969 general calendars.

    If so, this was a masterstroke. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is the same time in both calendars, hasn’t been moved to Sundays for a “convenience,” etc. Consecrating priests and priestly vocations to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord is a beautiful meditative and pious concept.

    However, it does take away the Cure d’Ars angle, which I thought was a nice element.

  6. Greg Smisek says:

    The 1961 third-class feast of St. John Vianney is August 8 (previously it had been on August 9, which was also the Vigil of St. Lawrence). In the 1969 calendar, the feast (obligatory memorial) of St. Dominic was moved to August 8 (the date of death, August 6, being taken by the feast of the Transfiguration), allowing St. John Vianney’s feast (obligatory memorial) to be moved to his date of death, August 4.

    Besides the opening and closing dates of the Year and First Thursdays throughout, the special plenary indulgence is universally available to all the faithful on the date of the Saint’s death, August 4, not his feast per se, which would differ according to the calendar observed.

    Since the Apostolic Penitentiary has decreed that the special plenary indulgence may be gained “any other day established by the local Ordinaries for the benefit of the faithful,” if you are planning a special Mass or observance for August 8, you might petition your local diocesan bishop, vicar general, or episcopal vicar to establish August 8 as one of those additional dates for your diocese.

  7. Greg Smisek says:

    Correction: The Apostolic Penitentiary decree is 25 April 2009 as the original query said, not as I wrote above.

  8. Seminarius says:

    Since we are speaking about a LITURGICAL year and not a “secular” calendar year, it seems to make more sense to end the Year of the Priest on June 11, 2010, with the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. A liturgical year is not 365 days long. (Note: The Year of St. Paul was an exception, since it was based on a fixed feast day).

    As an aside, I do not know why the new liturgical calendar in the Liturgy of the Hours, for example, follows the secular year for the Sanctoral (beginning in January). Didn’t the Roman Breviary’s Sanctoral begin with the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30)? Also, it seems like the LOH abolished the Jewish-based tradition of beginning a liturgical day at sundown on the eve (“first vespers”) — except in the case of Sundays and Solemnities. Does anyone know why the revised Liturgy changed this tradition? Unless I’m mistaken, I believe that a liturgical day in the Roman Breviary began with First Vespers and ended with None (or Second Vespers, in the case of a Feast Day). Just wondering if anyone knows why this was changed.