The Vatican

Pope Francis explains the figure of the priest at an important congress in Rome

The Pontiff opened the International Symposium "For a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood" at the Vatican with a conference in which he referred to his fifty years of priesthood and pointed out the essential elements of the priest.

Nicolás Álvarez de las Asturias-February 17, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes
pope priesthood symposium

Photo: Pope Francis with Cardinal Marc Ouellet at the Symposium on the Priesthood. ©2022 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Pope Francis inaugurated this morning in Rome an important congress on the ministerial priesthood, organized by the Congregation of Bishops, which is being held these days in Rome. The symposium brings together more than 700 experts in the Paul VI Hall, including cardinals, bishops, priests, theologians, lay people and religious from around the world, to reflect on the priestly vocation, the formation of seminarians, priestly celibacy and their spirituality.

In his opening address, the Holy Father, in fact, wanted to start from his more than fifty years of priestly life, finding in them God's passage through his life and the light to illuminate the ultimate meaning of the ordained ministry. In this way, his words move away from any hint of academicism and point out those essential elements that allow the priest to aspire joyfully to holiness, even in the midst of his own weaknesses and the misunderstandings of others. It seems to me that these essential elements pointed out by the Pope can be summarized in three:

At the forefront of the mission

First, "Offshore"(cf. Lk 5:4), as the proper horizon of the priestly mission. In the Pope's mind, priests are not in the rearguard but, together with the rest of the baptized, in the vanguard of the Church's mission. The fear of difficulties is warded off by anchoring themselves in the "wise, living and living Tradition of the Church".

Responding to God's love

Secondly, knowing oneself to be a baptized person called to holiness implies seeking to respond every day to God's love, which always precedes us: "even in the midst of crisis, the Lord does not cease to love and, therefore, to call".

Four "commuter trains

And the third element is enveloped in four "closenesses" that give joy and fruitfulness to his life: God's closeness, which "allows us to confront our life with his"; the closeness of the Bishop, presenting obedience as "the fundamental choice to welcome the one who has been placed before us as a concrete sign of that universal sacrament of salvation which is the Church"; closeness with priests, because "fraternity is deliberately choosing to be saints with others and not in solitude"; and closeness to people, grace before duty and which invites to a lifestyle in the image of Jesus, Good Samaritan.

In short, words that are born from a heart grateful for the gift of the priesthood and from a mind convinced of the importance of both the mission of priests and their need to seriously seek holiness within the Church they serve. A masterly portico for a Congress in which, certainly, we will have the opportunity to hear many things and very good things.

The authorNicolás Álvarez de las Asturias

San Dámaso Ecclesiastic University (Madrid) - [email protected]

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