Vatican Officials: Priests Need to Be Saints

Clergy Congregation Addresses Priests Before World Prayer Day

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Congregation for Clergy is encouraging priests to remember their duty to sanctity in a letter for the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Clergy, which falls this year on June 15.

The letter, signed by the prefect and secretary of the congregation, includes reading material and a prayer.

"The expression found in Scripture 'This is the will of God: your holiness!' (1 Thessalonians 4:3), though addressed to all Christians, refers to us priests in particular, for we have accepted the invitation to 'sanctify ourselves' and to become 'ministers of sanctification' for our brothers," the letter explained. "In our case, this 'will of God' is, so to speak, doubled and multiplied to infinity, and we must obey it in everything we do. 

"This is our wonderful destiny: we cannot be sanctified without working on the holiness of our brothers, and we cannot work on the holiness of our brothers unless we have first worked on and continue to work on our own holiness."

The letter speaks of the sex abuse scandal before turning to the celebration of the Year of Faith, which the Holy Father has convoked and will begin in October.

"Today it is especially priests, in their daily worship and ministry, who must refer everything to the Trinitarian Communion: only by starting from it and by immersing oneself in it can the faithful really discover the face of the Son of God and of His contemporariness, and really reach the heart of every man and the homeland they are all called to," the letter states. "Only this way can us priests restore contemporary man’s dignity, the sense of human relationships and social life, and the purpose of the whole of creation."

The Vatican officials proposed that the new evangelization can only be possible if "Christians are able to surprise and move the world again by proclaiming the Nature of Our God who is Love, in the Three Divine Persons that express it and that involve us in their own life."

"Today’s world, with its ever more painful and preoccupying lacerations, needs God -- The Trinity -- and the Church has the task to proclaim Him," the letter concludes. "In order to fulfill this task, the Church must remain indissolubly embraced with Christ and never part from Him; it needs Saints who dwell 'in the heart of Jesus' and are happy witnesses of God’s Trinitarian Love. And in order to serve the Church and the World, Priests need to be Saints!"