At the opening of the "Year for Priests" (copyeditors note: for not of) Pope Benedict XVI has released an extended letter to priests worldwide.  

In his exhortation, the Holy Father emphasizes the themes of service, devotion and piety.  Using the example of St. Jean Vianney, the "Curé of Ars," and patron of parish priests, the pope underscores the image of priest as a (to use some Jesuit lingo) "man for others."  Interestingly, within the body of this extended meditation, there is this exhortation to "sectors" of cooperation with the laity, that need to be opened "more fully."

"His [St. Jean Vianney's] example naturally leads me to point out that there are sectors of co-operation which need to be opened ever more fully to the lay faithful. Priests and laity together make up the one priestly people and in virtue of their ministry priests live in the midst of the lay faithful, "that they may lead everyone to the unity of charity, 'loving one another with mutual affection; and outdoing one another in sharing honour'". Here we ought to recall the Vatican Council II's hearty encouragement to priests "to be sincere in their appreciation and promotion of the dignity of the laity and of the special role they have to play in the Church's mission. ... They should be willing to listen to lay people, give brotherly consideration to their wishes, and acknowledge their experience and competence in the different fields of human activity. In this way they will be able together with them to discern the signs of the times."

The full text of the letter is here on Zenit.


Comments

Anonymous | 6/20/2009 - 9:00pm
Eggy, sorry to hear of your cynicism about St. John Vianney.  This "dim bulb", as you've maligned him, was a priest who struggled with great humility in his seminary studies of Latin (as did St. Ignatius Loyola).  If being challenged by a particular topic makes one a dim bulb, then I too must plead guilty!  Yet, what the Cure of Ars is truly "known for" is that he persevered in his vocation at a time of great turmoil for the Church in France and led people back to God.  If that makes one low in the eyes of the world, so be it, for it makes one high in the eyes of God.  As for your indictment of our current priests, I disagree.  They are some of the brightest stars I've ever known.  The priests I know include men who studied law at Yale, conducted scientific research at NIH, and worked on Wall Street. There are others I've known with less prestigious backgrounds but along with the priests I've mentioned share the distinction of giving it all in service of Christ.  If that makes one less than a bright star in your book, you have impossibly high standards that even Christ couldn't fulfill.
Anonymous | 6/20/2009 - 1:42am
There is quite a lively and lengthy thread on this subject over at dotCommonweal: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=3278#comments Readers of both magazines do peek at the two websites, so I hope there is no problem with friendly sharing of perspectives. I'd say the bulk of comments question the wisdom of this letter and year for priests.
Anonymous | 6/19/2009 - 9:39pm
The choice of St. John V. is truly inspired.  It seems Pope Benedict is acknowledging an ineluctable reality.  St. John Vianney is famous for having been a bit of a dim bulb.  And considering the current state of the Catholic priesthood, well, let's just say there certainly aren't a whole lot of bright stars in that firmament.