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Rome Reports

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10 years after the Catholic Church's Year for Priests


When Benedict XVI inaugurated the Year for Priests, he said it was 365 days to remember the Church and the rest of society need priests.

BENEDICT XVI
June 19, 2009

"Ours is an indispensable mission for the Church and for the world. It demands full fidelity to Christ and unceasing union with Him. That is, it demands that we constantly strive for holiness, as St. John Mary Vianney did."

They were difficult years in the Vatican. During the months of the Year for Priests several allegations against priests who had abused minors were made public.

Benedict XVI seemed to sense it during the opening ceremony.

BENEDICT XVI
June 19, 2009

"Nothing causes more suffering for the Church, the Body of Christ, than the sins of her pastors. Especially the sins of those who become 'thieves and robbers' of the sheep, lead them astray by their own private teachings, or ensnare them in the toils of sin and death.”

Benedict's idea was to encourage the priests, to ask them to reflect on their lives and their way of helping people.

A few days before opening this year, the pope sent a letter to all the priests of the world. In order to better face the challenges of priestly work, Benedict encouraged them to contemplate the life of the parish priest of Ars, St. John Vianney.  

CARD. CLAUDIO HUMMES
"With this year, we want to do justice to the truth. The vast majority of priests are very worthy men, who give their lives for the Church, for men, women and above all for the poor. For that, the Church is proud of them. It is a disastrous misfortune that a small group has followed a path of civil and canonical crimes. The Church is not closing her eyes, or ignoring it."

The Year for Priests ended a year later with the International Meeting of Priests in St. Peter's Basilica, the same place where it began a year before. 

During the closing Mass, Benedict XVI insistently begged forgiveness from God and the victims of abuse committed by clerics. He promised that the Church would do everything possible to ensure it never happens again.

BENEDICT XVI
June 11, 2010

“We promise that in admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation, we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation.”

The priests all renewed their priestly vows during the celebration. Benedict explained it was not to glorify the achievements of priests, but rather to feel grateful for God's gift.