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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Better awareness of all vocations will lead to more priests, pope says"

From Catholic News Service

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The key to increasing the number of candidates for the priesthood is helping all Catholics -- including married couples and youths -- understand that God is calling them to serve him and the church in a special way, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Meeting 30 bishops from Argentina March 14, the pope called for "a more incisive pastoral program for marriage and family life" that emphasizes that each Christian has a specific vocation and for "a bolder youth ministry that helps the young to respond with generosity to God's call."

The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to report on the status of their dioceses.

"The fundamental role that priests play should lead you to undertake a great effort to promote priestly vocations," the pope told them.

Pope Benedict said the fatherly attitude of love and encouragement that must characterize a bishop's relationship to his priests is even more important in situations where a priest is in difficulty.

"I exhort you to demonstrate charity and prudence when you must correct teachings, attitudes or behaviors that are not fitting for the priestly character of your closest collaborators and that also can damage and confuse the Christian faith and life of the faithful," the pope told them.

The church in Argentina will grow and thrive if all the faithful are helped to have a "living experience of Jesus Christ and the mystery of his love," the pope said.

"Constant contact with the Lord through an intense life of prayer and an adequate spiritual and doctrinal formation will increase in Christians the pleasure of believing and celebrating their faith and their joy at belonging to the church, leading them to participate actively in the mission of proclaiming the good news to all," the pope said.

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