The pope asks American bishops to pray for vocations

Source: FSSPX News


John-Paul II, who on November 26 received American bishops from Dubuque, Kansas City, Omaha and Saint Louis on their ad limina visits, told them: “No one can deny that the decline in priestly vocations represents an important challenge for the Church in the United States”. This challenge “can neither be ignored nor pushed aside”. To remedy it, the pope encouraged the bishops to pray fervently for this intention, to set up a program to promote vocations, and to institute, with the American Catholic community, “a National Day of Prayer for Priestly Vocations”. He also insisted on the necessity of a continuing formation for the clergy and an education for future priests, by means of “extensive studies in ecclesiastical sciences, like theology and canon law”. This formation must above all, for the pope, be accompanied by a concern to educate in “sanctity and spiritual wisdom”.

“The diocese must always be considered to exist through and for the parishes”, the pope also told the American prelates. “The parish is, and must be, the first place where the faithful meet and are invited to share fully the life and mission of the Church”. “For this reason, the renewal of church life at the service of the new evangelization must begin with the revitalization of the parish community, centered on the Gospel and the celebration of the Eucharist”, he also explained. For the Sovereign Pontiff, the bishop, who along with the priest is responsible for the government of the local church, “must play an indispensable role in this revitalization, promoting by his authority the teaching of the Church and proposing a unified pastoral plan capable of inspiring and directing the apostolate of the clergy and laity”.

In Switzerland too, the lack of vocations is beginning to worry bishops. Thus Bishop Kurt Koch addressed himself to the faithful of the diocese of Basle for the Year of Priestly Vocations that will take place in 2005. “The parishes expect the bishop, and this goes without saying, to put a priest at their disposal. The current lack of priests contains the question which must be asked of the parishes and the faithful, if they understand their vocation as baptized Christians”, challenged Msgr. Koch in his message read in all the churches of the diocese on the first Sunday of Advent. It is true, according to him, that “the Eucharist has been the source, means and summit of ecclesial life since the most ancient times”. But the concern for priestly vocations is something that concerns the entire community. The bishop of Basle is thus asking his faithful to carry this responsibility together, “for the irreplaceable task of inspiring new priestly vocations and developing a pastoral approach to vocations comes back to the parishes”.

Regarding the pastoral concern which would cause the idea of the ordination of married men to be envisioned and even encouraged: “Men of our times often see the goal of their lives only in the time they spend on earth and cannot consider celibacy for love of the Kingdom of God as anything but folly. This witness of life is thus all the more important, and depends on the encouragement and support of the faithful and the parishes”.