VATICAN CITY, 13 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Year for Priests, which came to an end last Friday at a Mass attended by some 15,000 members of the clergy, was the theme of the Holy Father's remarks before praying the Angelus this morning.
"The Year for Priests came to an end on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which is traditionally the 'day of priestly sanctification', and this time it was especially so", the Pope told the faithful gathered below his study window in St. Peter's Square.
"The priest", he went on, "is a gift of the Heart of Christ, a gift for the Church and the world. It is from the Son of God's Heart, overflowing with charity, that all the good of the Church comes, in particular the vocation of those men who, conquered by the Lord Jesus, leave everything to dedicate themselves entirely to the service of Christian people, following the example of the Good Shepherd.
"The priest is moulded of Christ's own charity, that love which impelled Him to give His life for his friends and to forgive His enemies", the Pope added. "This is why priests are the primary builders of the civilisation of love. At this point my thoughts go to many priests, the well-known and the less well-known, some raised to the glory of the altars, others whose memory remains indelible in the minds of the faithful, perhaps in some small parish community. This was the case in Ars, the French village where St. John Mary Vianney worked his ministry".
The Pope also mentioned Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, the priest and martyr who "generously and courageously practiced his ministry along with those committed to freedom, to the defence of life and its dignity. His work at the service of goodness and truth was a sign of contradiction for the regime that then governed Poland" he said. "Love for the Heart of Christ brought him to give his life, and his witness was the seed of a new springtime in the Church and in society".
The Holy Father went on: "If we look at history we can see that many episodes of authentic spiritual and social renewal have been written with the decisive contribution of Catholic priests, animated only by their passion for the Gospel and for man, for his true religious and civil liberty. How many initiatives of integral human promotion began with the intuition of a priestly heart", he concluded.
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