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Pope Tells Priests throughout the World to 'Be the Voice of the Good Shepherd'

April 14th, 2010
Vatican Information Service ()

'The priesthood is not chosen by anyone for himself. It is not a way of obtaining security in life or a social position. The priesthood is the answer to the Lord's call to become preachers, not of a personal truth, but of His truth. Priestly ordination means being immersed in the Truth'.

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - The ordained ministry was again the topic of catechesis by Benedict XVI at Wednesday's general audience held in St. Peter's Square and attended by 16,000 people.   In particular, the Pope reflected on the "fruitful reality of the priest in the figure of Christ the Head in carrying out the tria munera that he receives, that is, in the three functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing".

"However, in order to understand what it means to act in persona Christi capitis, that is, in the person of Christ the Head, and the consequences of a priest's duty to represent the Lord, it is necessary to understand," the Holy Father said, "that the presbytery represents Jesus 'who is never absent in the Church'".

"Therefore, a priest ... never acts in the name of someone absent, but in the person of the Risen Christ" and "the three offices of teaching,sanctifying, and governing are ... a clear specification of that effective representation because they are actually the three actions of the Risen Lord himself who teaches, sanctify, and guides the Church today".

Referring to the first task, the munus docendi, teaching, the pontiff affirmed that a priest "teaches in the name of Christ present, putting forward the Truth which is Christ. For a priest, it is true what Christ says of himself: my teaching is not my own ... It is the voice and the word of the Father. That is how the priest should act: I do not propagate my ideas ... but am the mouth and heart of Christ and I present this unique teaching that has informed the Universal Church and that gives life".

"The teaching that we are called to offer, the truths of the faith that we must communicate should be internalized and lived in an intense spiritual journey," the Pope emphasized, recalling that not infrequently can a priest's voice seem one that cries out in the wilderness.

'This is what its prophetic force consists in, not in being homogenized into any other dominant culture or mentality but of showing the unique newness capable of a profound and authentic renewal of the human being, that is to say that Christ is the Living One, God who is near to us, God who works in and through life in the world".

"In preaching, catechesis, academic teaching, and above all "in the unwritten book that is his life, a priest is always a teacher. Not with the presumption of those who impose their own truths but with the humble and joyful sincerity of those who have found the Truth, have been grasped and transformed by it and who therefore cannot stop announcing it".

"In fact, the priesthood," observed the Holy Father, "is not chosen by anyone for himself. It is not a way of obtaining security in life or a social position. The priesthood is the answer to the Lord's call ... to become preachers, not of a personal truth, but of His truth".
 
Addressing himself to priests the Pope affirmed: "The Christian people need to hear the teaching of the true ecclesial doctrine" that has as it point of reference "Sacred Scripture, the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church".

"Priestly ordination," he continued, "means being immersed in the Truth ... which is not simply a concept or set of ideas to transmit and assimilate but the Person of Christ".

"The Pope finished by expressing the desire that St. John Mary Vianney may serve as an example for priests because, in him, the Christian people recognize "that which must always be recognized in a priest: the voice of the Good Shepherd".

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