World Day of Prayer for Sanctification of Priests Is Planned

Sacraments Avoid a Fall into "Ethical Darkness," Holy See Says

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Mindful of the sexual abuses involving priests, the Catholic Church is observing a World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.



The majority of dioceses will observe it this Friday, the feast of the Sacred Heart.

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, wrote a letter to the world´s more than 400,000 priests, proposing the renewal of the experience of God´s mercy in their lives in order to rediscover their priestly identity.

Specifically, he suggested two indispensable means: frequent recourse to the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist.

"If, absurdly, we do not do this, we will find ourselves increasingly submerged in the night, in a confused ethical darkness, in spiritual impotence in face of a wave of evil that would run the risk of drowning us," the Colombian cardinal explained.

Cardinal Castrillón´s letter, signed May 8, proposes to all priests to transform their lives by experiencing Divine Mercy, the devotion promoted by now St. Faustina Kowalska.

"If we make Jesus´ call to have ´confidence in his divine mercy´ penetrate our being, which the Pope has relaunched in the present time, we will realize that it is precisely priests who are personally called to allow themselves to be imbued by the Spirit given to us by the risen Christ, which makes us a sign of God´s forgiveness for all," the letter continues.

"Without forgiveness, the fruit of mercy, peace would be a pure utopia, and vengeance and reprisal would inevitably take its place," the cardinal stressed.

Given the present situation, the prefect concluded: "Although at times our discouragement may be intense in face of the indifference of the world, which can even become hostility against the Church, we must not forget that our society thirsts for the forgiveness and peace that the risen Christ has come to bring, and that has its origin only in him."

The original letter, written in Italian, and an addendum to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, may be found in the Italian section of the Congregation of the Clergy´s Web page, www.clerus.org.