Benedict XVI replies to the priests of Val d’Aosta

Source: FSSPX News

On Monday July 25, Benedict XVI addressed the clergy of the diocese of Aosta, Italy, in the parish church of Introd. His words were reported by L’Osservatore Romano of July 27, 2005. The pope was responding to three questions put to him by Mgr. Giuseppe Anfossi, the bishop of Aosta: the low morale of priests in face of the absence of priestly vocations, the gulf between the faithful and priests (“we are no longer sought and appreciated as we once were”), and the physical and moral fatigue caused by current conditions of pastoral life.

 “It seems to me that in the Church’s history, these questions that truly torment us are constantly cropping up in various forms: what should we do?” asked Benedict XVI. “I would also like to say that the Pope is not an oracle, he is infallible on the rarest of occasions, as we know. I therefore share with you these questions, these queries. I also suffer. However, let us, on the one hand, suffer all together for these problems, and let us also suffer in transforming the problems”.

 We live in “a world weary of its own culture. It is a world that has reached the time when there is no longer any evidence of the need for God, let alone Christ, and when it therefore seems that humans could build themselves on their own. In this atmosphere of a rationalism closing in on itself and that regards the model of the sciences as the only model of knowledge, everything else is subjective. Christian life too, of course, becomes a choice that is subjective, hence, arbitrary and no longer the path of life. It therefore naturally becomes difficult to believe, and if it is difficult to believe it is even more difficult to offer one’s life to the Lord to be his servant.”

 “The first answer is patience, in the certainty that the world cannot live without God, the God of Revelation the God who showed us his Face in Jesus Christ. Without Him the world destroys itself. We see this with our own eyes. We should keep our certainty that Christ really is the Face of God, and we should deepen this certainty in a personal relationship with the Lord, by virtue of a friendship lived personally, every day, with Christ. This is what will bring new vocations.”

“It is therefore important to live in the reality of the presbyterate, of the community of priests who help one another, who are journeying on together with solidarity in their common faith. This also seems to me to be important, We must really create this communal life which shows to young people priests who are not lonely, sad and tired, but a future which is perfectly possible.”

“On the second point, the Church appears as something antiquated and our proposals seem unnecessary. People behave as though they were able to and wanted to live without our words, and they always think they have no need of us” on account of the heritage of Karl Marx. “If there is no moral force in souls, if there is no readiness to suffer for these values, a better world is not built. Selfishness dominates and destroys all. There is no longer any proof of moral values. They become evident only if God exists. I have therefore suggested that lay people, the so-called laity, should think about whether the contrary might not be true for them today: We must live "quasi Deus daretur", and even if we are not strong enough to believe, we must live on this hypothesis. This would be a first step to approaching faith.”

 “Third point. When I was Archbishop of Munich they created this type of service solely for the Liturgy of the Word without a priest. It was said that every community should stay put and wherever there is no priest let us celebrate this Liturgy of the Word.” The French found the Word suitable for these Sunday Assemblies "in the absence of a priest", but after a while they realized that this could go wrong because the meaning of the Sacrament is lost, a "Protestantization" occurs and, in the end, if it is only the Word, I can celebrate it myself in my own home. This must not be the solution”.

 “I would say that the Liturgy of the Word should normally be an exception on Sundays. Sunday was created because the Lord was raised; Sunday is the day on which the Lord wants to be with us physically again and again, and wants to nourish us with his Body, so that we ourselves may become his Body in the world”. “The young travel 50 kilometres or more to go to a discothèque, why can they also not travel 50 kilometres to go to a common church? Yet, this is something very positive and practical and I do not dare to offer formulas. However, an effort should be made to give people this sentiment: "I need to be with the Church, to be with the living Church and with the Lord!”