2009-09-17 15:53:55

Pope: “Do not secularize the clergy or clericalize the laity”

(17 Sep 09 - RV) The difference between the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood was the focus of the Pope’s message to Brazilian bishops on their Ad Limina pilgrimage to Rome. RealAudioMP3

Thursday Morning it was the turn of the first group of bishops from the Northeast of Brazil, the poorest and most arid region of the nation.

They are the second group from Brazil’s Bishops Conference, the largest in the Catholic World.

“Do not secularize the clergy and clericalize the laity” was the essence of the Pope’s message to the bishops. He indicated that "the lack of priests does not justify a more active and abundant participation of the laity. The truth is that the greater the faithfull’s awareness of their own responsibilities within the Church, the clearer becomes the specific identity and inimitable role of the priest as pastor of the entire community".

"The function of the clergy is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the Word and celebrating the Sacraments” continued the Pope, “especially the Eucharist. ... For this reason it is necessary that priests express joy in their faithfulness to their identity".

The Pope made it clear that "the shortage of priests must not come to be considered as a normal or typical state of affairs for the future". In this context he encouraged the prelates "to combine efforts to encourage new priestly vocations and find the pastors your dioceses need, helping one another so that all of you have better-trained and more numerous priests to support the life of faith and the apostolic mission".

Acknowledging "numerous signs of hope" in the reality of the Brazilian church, the Pope spoke of "a future that God is preparing through the zeal and fidelity with which the bishops exercise their Episcopal ministry."

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