Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Pope to Youth: Christ Wants to Make You Happy
Encourages Them to Have Open Hearts

STARA BOLESLAV, Czech Republic, SEPT. 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is telling youth that Christ wants to make them happy, and that his voice is not difficult to hear for those who have their hearts open.

The Pope reflected on Christ's call today when he spoke with young people gathered on the third and last day of his visit to the Czech Republic.

"As he did with Augustine, so the Lord comes to meet each one of you," he said. "He knocks at the door of your freedom and asks to be welcomed as a friend. He wants to make you happy, to fill you with humanity and dignity.

"The Christian faith is this: encounter with Christ, the living Person who gives life a new horizon and thereby a definitive direction. And when the heart of a young person opens up to his divine plans, it is not difficult to recognize and follow his voice."

The Holy Father reflected on the Lord's specific call for each person, and he urged them to holiness in their vocations.

"Many of you he calls to marriage, and the preparation for this sacrament constitutes a real vocational journey," he said. "Consider seriously the divine call to raise a Christian family, and let your youth be the time in which to build your future with a sense of responsibility. Society needs Christian families, saintly families!"

"And if the Lord is calling you to follow him in the ministerial priesthood or in the consecrated life," the Pontiff continued, "do not hesitate to respond to his invitation. In particular, in this Year of Priests, I appeal to you, young men: Be attentive and open to Jesus's call to offer your lives in the service of God and his people."

"The Church in every country," he reflected, "including this one, needs many holy priests and also persons fully consecrated to the service of Christ, Hope of the world."

Monday, 28 September 2009

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're
supposed to help you discover who you are."

Friday, 25 September 2009

Papal Statement to Climate Change Meeting
"The Earth Is Indeed a Precious Gift of the Creator"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a videostatement from Benedict XVI that was sent to the Sept. 22 U.N. summit on climate change. It contained the words he said on this issue Aug. 26, 2009, during the Wednesday general audience.

* * *

I wish to reflect today upon the relationship between the Creator and ourselves as guardians of his creation. In so doing I also wish to offer my support to leaders of governments and international agencies who soon will meet at the United Nations to discuss the urgent issue of climate change.

The Earth is indeed a precious gift of the Creator who, in designing its intrinsic order, has given us guidelines that assist us as stewards of his creation. Precisely from within this framework, the Church considers that matters concerning the environment and its protection are intimately linked with integral human development. In my recent encyclical,Caritas in Veritate, I referred to such questions recalling the "pressing moral need for renewed solidarity" (no. 49) not only between countries but also between individuals, since the natural environment is given by God to everyone, and so our use of it entails a personal responsibility towards humanity as a whole, particularly towards the poor and towards future generations (cf. no. 48).

How important it is then, that the international community and individual governments send the right signals to their citizens and succeed in countering harmful ways of treating the environment! The economic and social costs of using up shared resources must be recognized with transparency and borne by those who incur them, and not by other peoples or future generations. The protection of the environment, and the safeguarding of resources and of the climate, oblige all leaders to act jointly, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the world (cf. no. 50). Together we can build an integral human development beneficial for all peoples, present and future, a development inspired by the values of charity in truth. For this to happen it is essential that the current model of global development be transformed through a greater, and shared, acceptance of responsibility for creation: this is demanded not only by environmental factors, but also by the scandal of hunger and human misery.

With these sentiments I wish to encourage all the participants in the United Nations summit to enter into their discussions constructively and with generous courage. Indeed, we are all called to exercise responsible stewardship of creation, to use resources in such a way that every individual and community can live with dignity, and to develop "that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God" (Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace, 7)!

Thank you.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Agreement on Justification Marks 10 Years
WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- An evening prayer service will mark the 10th anniversary of the landmark agreement on the doctrine of justification signed by Catholics and Lutherans, and later approved by Methodists.

Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. episcopal conference, and Lutheran Bishop Mark Hanson will lead the Oct. 1 prayer service in Chicago. The agreement was signed Oct. 31, 1999, by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation. Methodists joined the agreement in 2006.

"This is an historic moment on the journey toward Christian unity," said Father James Massa, executive director for the bishops' Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. "The Joint Declaration expressed a common understanding of how human beings are made right with God through the life-giving death of Jesus Christ."

The declaration was the fruit of some 35 years of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue since the issue of justification was one of the first points of controversy raised by Martin Luther.

The joint declaration, while it does not clarify every point of discord between Catholic and Protestant understandings (merit and indulgences are not addressed, for example), expresses a joint confession: "By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works."

The president of the Vatican's council for promoting Christian unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, has expressed the hope that the declaration will lead to more prayer in common.

"May it encourage us," he said, "to continue our theological dialogue, and building on our common foundations, may it lead to an increase in joint witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Pope Sends Message to Jews on Their New Year
Notes Upcoming Visit to Synagogue

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent a message of congratulations and friendship to the Jewish people on the occasion of the celebration of Rosh Hashanah 5770, Yom Kippur and the upcoming festival of Sukkot.

In a telegram to the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, the Pope said, "I invoke from the Eternal for all Jews copious blessings for constant encouragement in their commitment to promote justice, concord and peace."

On transmitting to the Jewish community "his heartfelt congratulations," the Pontiff expressed the hope that "these celebrations will be the occasion of holy and common joy."

The Holy Father affirmed his "cordial friendship" with the rabbi, and noted his anticipation "to make with joy, after your feasts, a visit to your community and to the synagogue, animated by the profound desire to manifest my personal closeness and that of the whole Catholic Church."

Di Segni thanked the Pope publicly for his message. Vatican Radio reported that the Holy Father will visit Rome's synagogue in the Fall, though the date is yet to be decided.

It will be the third Jewish place of worship that he will have visited in this pontificate, after the synagogues of Cologne, Germany, in Aug. 2005, and of Park East in New York, in April 2008.

The visit to Rome's synagogue will take place 23 years after John Paul II's historic visit there on April 13, 1986, the first time that a Pope entered a Jewish place of worship since St. Peter.

In addition to marking the beginning of the new Jewish year, Rosh Hashanah is also the first of the ten days of repentance that end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

"Lectio Divina" as Simple as 1, 2, 3, 4
Brazilian Cardinal Explains Prayerful Reading of Scripture

SÃO PAULO, Brazil, SEPT. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As Brazil celebrates the month of the Bible, Cardinal Odilo Scherer recommended to his archdiocese the exercise of prayerful reading of the Word of God, and explained how to do it.

In the archdiocesan weekly "O São Paulo," the archbishop of São Paulo recalled how the synod of bishops on the Word of God, held last October, "noted with joy that in the whole world the prayerful reading of the Bible -- lectio divina -- is being adopted and is spreading."

"It is a simple method accessible to everyone, including the most simple," the cardinal said, explaining that the method "proposes the reading and acceptance of the Word of God in a context of prayer, as the Church recommends."

Through lectio divina, Cardinal Scherer continued, a "dialogue of faith" is established, "in which we listen to God who speaks, we respond with prayer and try to be attuned to him in our lives."

Step by step

The cardinal went on to offer the faithful four easy steps for lectio divina.

First, one reads the passage. "In this first instance, one attempts to understand the text exactly as it appears, without pretending to extract from it immediately messages and conclusions," he said.

Meditation on the text comes next, in response to the question "What is God saying to me, or to us, through this text? Now we really do try to listen to God who is speaking to us and we receive his voice."

Then comes "prayer. In this third step, we respond to the question: What does this text bring me to say to God?"

"Let us always remember that a good biblical reading is always done only in the dialogue of faith: God speaks, we listen and accept, and respond to God and speak to him," the cardinal explained. The text "might inspire several types of prayer: praise, profession of faith, thanksgiving, adoration, petition for forgiveness and help."

The fourth and final step of lectio divina is contemplation. In this step "we dwell on the Word and further our understanding of the mystery of God and his plan of love and salvation; at the same time, we dispose ourselves to accept in our concrete lives what the Word teaches us, renewing our good intentions and obedience of the faith."

With these four steps, Cardinal Scherer said experience teaches that it is not difficult to practice lectio divina.

"It's enough to start; it is learned by being practiced," he said. "The preciousness of the Word of God and its importance for Christian life, moreover, well merits an effort on our part."

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can
start today and make a new ending."
Madrid Awaits Pope, 2M Youth
Cardinal Reports on Progress of Preparations

MADRID, Spain, SEPT. 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Madrid says he's preparing to welcome some two million young people for the 2011 World Youth Day -- half of whom are expected from outside Spain.

Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela spoke with the Spanish daily ABC about preparations for the youth event. The preparations were officially kicked off today, feast of the exaltation of the cross, with the beginning of the pilgrimage of the World Youth Day Cross and icon through the archdiocese, and throughout Spain.

The cardinal affirmed that the sites for the main activities with the Pope are already confirmed: the Vigil and closing Mass on Aug. 19 and 20, 2011, will be held at the Cuatro Vientos airport, and the opening Mass to welcome the Pope on Aug. 16 will be held at the Plaza de Cibeles.

A solemn Way of the Cross is also being considered, to be held Aug. 18 on the Paseo de la Casstellana.

Cardinal Rouco Varela observed that World Youth Days "have conditioned the history of the evangelization of the world's youth" by helping to create "a distinct youth culture, fresh air for young people's lives in their environments and ecclesial groups."

He continued, "For thousands of youth, they have meant an encounter or a re-encounter with the faith; others have discovered their vocations; and all of them have caught sight of ways to be young, to want to live with dignity, with nobility and with clear horizons."

Under way

The cardinal explained that the organizing committee is already at work, collaborating with the Spanish episcopal conference.

The committee has already approved the official logo and theme song, and is coordinating catechesis sessions in more than 300 language groups.

According to initial data, more than 1,000 bishops are expected to attend, as will half of the Church's cardinals.

Families of Madrid will be opening their homes to accommodate pilgrims, though the cardinal acknowledged that this won't be sufficient to house all of the pilgrims. Thus, every ecclesial institution has been asked to provide every available space, and regional and local government offices have received the same request.

Cardinal Rouco Varela noted the "magnificent response" to this petition, and the "absolute availability."

Finally, the archbishop mentioned the financial cost of the event, affirming that the majority will come from "private contributions and donations from the faithful." He also said that there is a need for 15,000 volunteers in the six principal language groups.

"The tradition of the Church in Spain," the cardinal concluded, "will be a grand and positive novelty for youth from many parts of the world, where the Church is very young, where the great Christian past is languid, or the reality of the contemplative consecrated life that so much attracts youth of our time is not as vigorous as here."

Monday, 14 September 2009

Benedict XVI Says True Faith Is Expressed in Love
Recalls Mary's Perseverance at the Cross

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 13, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Faith in God must be expressed in concrete actions, lest it prove insufficient for our salvation, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope stated this today while addressing the pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo to pray the midday Angelus with him.

He spoke about today's liturgy, where the "Word of God puts two crucial questions to us."

The Pontiff summarized these questions as: "Who is Jesus of Nazareth for you?" and "Does your faith translate into works or not?"

In the Gospel, he stated, Peter declares his belief that Jesus is the "Christ, that is, the Messiah, the consecrated one of God, sent to save his people."

The Holy Father continued: "Peter and the other disciples, then, unlike the majority of the people, believe that Jesus is not only a great teacher, or a prophet, but much more.

"They have faith: They believe that God is present in him and works in him."

Yet after Peter's expression of faith, he is reproached, Benedict XVI affirmed, as Jesus tries to "make him understand that it is not enough to believe that he is God, but that, moved by charity, he must follow him along the same road, that of the cross."

The Pope explained that Jesus came to show us the "way that leads to life," the way that is love, "which is the expression of true faith."

The Pontiff continued: "If a person loves his neighbor with a pure and generous heart, it means that he truly knows God.

"If instead a person says that he has faith, but does not love his brothers, he is not a true believer. God does not live in him."

The Holy Father referred to the upcoming feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which will be celebrated Monday, and the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows the following day.

Benedict XVI affirmed: "The Virgin Mary, who believed in the Lord's Word, did not lose her faith in God when she saw her Son rejected, offended and put on a cross.

"Rather she stayed with Jesus, suffering and praying, to the end. And she saw the radiant sunrise of his resurrection."

He urged his listeners to "learn from her to bear witness to our faith with a life of humble service, ready to suffer personally to remain faithful to the Gospel of charity and truth, certain that nothing of what we do will be lost."

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Synagogue From Jesus' Time Discovered
Uncovered at Site of Future Christian Pilgrimage Center in Magdala

JERUSALEM, SEPT. 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The ruins of a synagogue from Jesus' time were discovered during excavations of a site in Magdala where a pilgrimage center is being built on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, which has been overseeing the excavations, announced this unique archeological find in a press release today.

The Magdala Center excavation began shortly after Benedict XVI's visit to the Holy Land in May, where he blessed the cornerstone of the future building that is being developed under the direction of the priestly congregation, the Legionaries of Christ.

The archeological excavation, directed by Dina Avshalom-Gorni and Arfan Najar of the antiquities authority, began July 27, and approximately one month later the first vestiges of an important find were uncovered.

As the excavation continued and significant findings were added, the conclusion was reached that these ruins are of a synagogue from the first century, possibly destroyed in the years of the Jewish revolt against the Romans, between A.D. 66 and A.D. 70.

In the center of the 1292-square-foot building, the team discovered a stone engraved with a seven-branched menorah [candelabrum].

Avshalom-Gorni explained: "We are dealing with an exciting and unique find. This is the first time that a menorah decoration has been discovered from the days when the Second Temple was still standing. […]

"We can assume that the engraving that appears on the stone […] was done by an artist who saw the seven-branched menorah with his own eyes in the temple in Jerusalem."

Thus far, only six other synagogues have been discovered from the period of Jerusalem's Second Temple.


This finding is of great interest for the Jewish world, affirmed Shuka Dorfmann, director of the antiquities authority, who visited the site twice and spoke of the extraordinary nature of the discovery and the need to study it deeper.

The Israelite authorities have requested the continued excavation of the area, and that the findings be preserved in that site and be included in the Magdala Center project.

Numerous Israelite and Christian archeologists have already made appointments to visit the ruins in the past days.

Magdala is located just over four miles from the ancient town of Capernaum, where Jesus spent much of his time during his public ministry. It is assumed that he came to this site, now being excavated, at least once to preach.

Magdala is also thought to be the place frequented by many eyewitnesses to the life and works of Jesus, including Mary Magdalene, who was native to this town.

In Galilean towns such as Magdala, Christian communities were born, and until the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, these believers many times shared the synagogues with Jews.

Only after the temple was destroyed in the year 70 was there a more clear separation between Jews and Christians, and at that time the latter created their own places of meeting and worship.

A special place

The initiative to build a center here began when the Legionaries of Christ arrived to Jerusalem in 2004 by the invitation of Pope John Paul II, to take care of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.

The Magdala Center, also in northern Israel like the Notre Dame Center, aims to complement the services offered to pilgrims who visit Jerusalem.

The land where the building is being erected is on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee.

The Magdala Center, aside from preserving and exhibiting the ruins of this holy place, will offer a hotel for pilgrims to the Holy Land, and a multimedia center that will display the message and life of Jesus and the history of the land.

Another part of the project includes a center that will promote the vocation and dignity of women, inspired by the figure of Mary Magdalene.

Legionary Father Juan María Solana, director of the Notre Dame Center and initiator of the Magdala project, stated, "I knew that Magdala was a holy place and I always had a hunch that it would be a special place for pilgrims of various religions; but the finding that we have made certainly exceeds our expectations."

He continued: "In a moment of prayer at the site, I thought of the last time the faithful gathered here, around the year 70, and how most had been witnesses of the life of Our Lord. I dream of the day that this place will be opened to visiting pilgrims, and I hope it will serve to create bridges and bonds of true love and dialogue between believers of different religions that come together in the Holy Land."

The opening of the Magdala Center is planned for Dec. 12, 2011, though the schedule may have to be adjusted due to the recent discoveries.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Carmelites Renew Promise to Pray for Priests
HAIFA, Israel, SEPT. 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Carmelite community of Haifa is renewing its commitment to priests: "to offer our humble supplication that you may be holy."

The cloistered religious have made this renewal in a letter marking the Year for Priests, under way through next June.

The letter is directed to priests around the world.

"In our vocation as Carmelite Nuns, daughters of our Mother Saint Teresa of Avila , our essential mission is prayer; especially prayer for the holiness of priests," the religious affirmed. "Therefore, the invitation of our Holy Father to place your ministry, during this year, at the center of our concern, challenges us deeply."

The Haifa Carmelites point to a guideline from St. Teresa: "Be occupied in prayer for those who are defenders of the Church and for preachers and learned men who protect her from attack." (Way of Perfection 1:2)

And they send their encouragement and gratitude to various types of priests: elderly and young, those afflicted by suffering or trials, etc.

"Dear brothers, we find no words that can truly express our gratitude to each one of you," the Carmelites wrote. "To each and every one of you, we say with simplicity of heart: You can count on the silent prayer and the hidden offering of your sisters!"

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we
have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into
a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow."

-- Melody Beattie

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Female Servers in the Extraordinary Form
And More on the Blessed Sacrament

ROME, SEPT. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: Is there any definitive answer available regarding the use of female servers at celebrations of the extraordinary form of the Roman rite? -- A.J., Pontypridd, Wales

A: Although a clarifying instruction on several such questions was frequently described as "imminent," a long time has passed and it would seem that it is still in the pipeline.

All the same, it is important to remember that, even in the ordinary form, the use of female altar servers is in virtue of a specific permission and is not automatic. As the Holy See has explained on several occasions, the local bishop may permit the use of female servers but may not oblige the pastor to use them.

Also, the Holy Father's motu proprio granting permission for the celebrations of the extraordinary form was for the Roman Missal according to the edition issued under Pope John XXIII. Since the rubrics of this missal in no way contemplate the possibility of female servers, then it must be surmised that only altar boys or adult men are allowed as servers in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite.

To help us to understand the underlying logic behind this we can reflect on a particular situation.

It appears there was at least one case in which women were allowed some functions habitually carried out by the servers. In the preface to the 1936 first edition of H.E. Calnan's guide for altar servers, he mentions the following circumstance: "In most parishes, a dozen influences combine to restrict the supply of efficient Mass servers. Layfolk must be asked to serve at short notice, or without warning. A woman with knowledge of Latin may venture, because she has only to answer and not to move about."

The case foreseen here is when there were no assigned altar servers present. In such a plight a woman with knowledge of Latin could do the responses.

A woman could carry out this role because it was properly speaking a role of the assembly. In making the Latin responses the altar boys in a way represented and substituted the assembly, who frequently did not know the liturgical language. One of the challenges of being an altar boy (and a source of legitimate pride to his parents) was memorizing the Latin texts to be recited.

However, years before the conciliar reform there was already a liturgical movement that encouraged the whole assembly's recitation of these parts, and not just the server. This practice is relatively common today among communities that habitually celebrate the extraordinary form.

Father Calnan's mention that the woman "has only to answer and not move about" makes it clear that she did not carry out any of the other functions of the altar boy in serving the Mass. Since in these roles the altar servers substituted some of the functions of those who had received minor orders (and who were thus canonically numbered among the clergy), only males could carry out these functions.

In the ordinary form the clerical minor orders have been replaced by the lay ministries of lector and acolyte. However, even though they are lay ministries, only males may be instituted as lectors and acolytes. Since instituted lectors and acolytes are uncommon in most parishes, other lay readers and servers may be delegated. At this stage the rubrics allow either men or women to be chosen as readers and, were permitted, as servers.

In the extraordinary form, though, the minor orders and the liturgical logic behind them still exist. For this reason I would say that in this form the rule reserving altar service to boys or men remains in force.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

With God there is no night but only day. For when God looks at you and me he always sees a much cherished child and never a stranger. There is nothing in us — nothing about us — that God does not see, and yet even on our worst days, God’s attitude towards us — what he really thinks about us — never changes: “You are my dear boy, my dear girl,” he says. “I love you, and I’ll never give up on you, never call you stranger.”

For those of us who have come face to face with our frailties and have seen and named our sinfulness, those words of the Lord are both comfort and healing, “you are my dear boy, my dear girl, and I’ll never give up on you.”

But those words are more than comfort and healing for us. They are also God’s mandate to us. God, in his gracious hospitality, has welcomed every single one of us inside the circle of his love and left no one outside. He is asking us to do the same. He is asking us to make the habit of hospitality the foundation of our lives. “As I have welcomed you into my life,” he’s saying, “so must you welcome one another and call no one stranger.”

How different every part of our lives could be if we refused to label anyone “stranger.” How different the way we’d drive and do business and even celebrate this liturgy. How different life could be if we said inside our heads, “I don’t know her name, I don’t know who he is — and I probably never will — but I do know she’s my sister, and he’s my brother. And I cannot call them strangers. I cannot fail to value them.” How different life would be!

So let us pray for one another:

God grant that the night will end for us all. In his light may we look upon one another’s faces and see there brothers and sisters to be welcomed and cherished always! Amen.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Book Offers Prayers for Spouses
LONDON, SEPT. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A new prayer book published by the London-based Catholic Truth Society is encouraging married couples to incorporate prayer into every moment of their lives, even before acts of marital love.

The "Prayer Book for Spouses," published at the end of August, is composed of prayers and meditations to "offer couples a ready, thorough and reliable support to the daily challenges and joys of married life," the society's Web site explained.

Using excerpts from Scripture, Catholic teaching and the Marriage Rite, it "encourages the loving and spiritual dimension essential to the life of Christian spouses."

In offers prayers during pregnancy, while caring for aged parents, and even a "Prayer Before Making Love."

In this particular prayer, married couples ask God, "Place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes."

The prayer continues, "Open our hearts to you, to each other and to the goodness of your will."

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Cardinal: It's Time to Reach Out to Ex-Priests
Says Priest-Saints Are Supporting Pope’s Plans for Renewal

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Year for Priests is also for those men who have left priestly ministry, according to Benedict XVI's secretary of state.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone made this observation Friday in L'Osservatore Romano, in an interview that also explains how the Year for Priests became a reality.

"I remember that after the synod of bishops on the Word of God, at the Pope’s table there was talk of a proposal that had already come up in the past, of convoking a year of prayer, which was very linked to the reflection on the Word of God," the cardinal recounted.

Nevertheless, he said, "the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé d'Ars and the situation of the problems that have affected so many priests brought Benedict XVI to declare a Year for Priests."

With this initiative, Cardinal Bertone affirmed, the Holy Father wants to show "special attention to priests and to priestly vocations" and to promote "a movement within the whole people of God, of a growing affection and closeness to ordained ministers."

"The Year for Priests is bringing about great enthusiasm in all of the local Churches and an extraordinary movement of prayer, of fraternity with and among priests, and of vocational ministry," the cardinal added.

He continued, "Moreover, the sometimes weak fabric of dialogue between bishops and priests is being strengthened, and special attention is being given to those priests who have been put to the side in pastoral ministry."

The year is also a "renewal of contact, fraternal help, and if it is possible, a reuniting with those priests who for various reasons have left behind their priestly ministry," Cardinal Bertone stated.

Finally, he affirmed, "The holy priests who have been part of the history of the Church will not cease to protect and support this road to renewal that Benedict XVI has proposed."