Pope Benedict XVI: The Priest – the Believer
The priest must be a believer, one who converses with God. If this is not the case, then all his activities are futile. The most lofty and important thing a priest can do for people is first of all being what he is: a believer. Through faith he lets God, the other, come into the world. And if the other is not at work, our work will never be enough; When people sense that one is there who believes, who lives with God and from God, hope becomes a reality for them as well. Through the faith of the priest, doors open up all around for people: it is really possible to believe, even today. All human believing is a believing-with, and for this reason the one who believes before us is so important. In many ways this person is more exposed in his faith than the others, since their faith depends on his and since, at any given time, he has to withstand the hard-ships of faith for them….
There is a mutual given-and-take in faith in which priests and lay people become mediators of the nearness of God for one another. The priest must also nurture the humility of such receiving in himself ….
The first “task” a priest has to do is to be a believer and to become one ever anew and ever more. Faith is never simply there automatically; it must be lived. It leads us into conversation with God which involves speaking and listening to the same degree. Faith and prayer belong together; they cannot be separated. The time spent by a priest on prayer and listening to Scripture is never time lost to pastoral care or time withheld from others. People sense whether the work and words of their pastor spring from prayer fabricated at his desk.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, from A New Song for the Lord, tr. by Martha M Matesich, NY: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1996.
Pope Benedict XVI on the Priesthood
- Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests on The 150th Anniversary of the “Dies Natalis” of the Curé of Ars
- A wonderful reflection on Saint John Mary Vianney and the priesthood given June 16, 2009.
- Homily at the Mass for the Conclusion of the Year for Priests on June 11, 2010
- Homily at the Mass Opening the Year for Priests on June 19, 2009
- General Audiences given during the Year for Priests
- Chrism Mass Homily on Holy Thursday, March 20, 2008
- The essence of priesthood is service. All priests are encouraged to renew their “yes” to the call of God.
- Chrism Mass Homily on Holy Thursday, April 13, 2006
- The Lord makes us priests His friends. We should recommit ourselves to this friendship every day.
- “If You Abide in Christ, You Will Bear Much Fruit”
- Address to seminarians attending World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, on August 19, 2005.
- On the Nature of Priesthood
- Speech given by Cardinal Ratzinger on October 1, 1990 at the opening of the Synod of Bishops on priestly formation.
Papal and Magisterial Documents on the Priesthood
- Amantissimi Redemptoris
- On Priests And The Care Of Souls – Encyclical of Bl. Pope Pius IX on May 3, 1858
- Haerent Animo
- To The Catholic Clergy On Priestly Sanctity – Apostolic Exhortation of Pope St. Pius X on August 4, 1908
- Ad Catholici Sacerdotii
- On the Catholic Priesthood – Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on Dec 20, 1935
- Menti Nostrae
- On the Development of Holiness in Priestly Life – Apostolic Exhortation To The Clergy Of The Entire World of Pope Pius XII on Sept. 23, 1950
- Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia
- On St. John Vianney and the Priesthood – Encyclical of Bl. Pope John XXIII on Aug 1, 1959
- Presbyterorum Ordinis
- Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests of Second Vatican Council on December 7, 1965
- Sacerdotalis Caelibatus
- On The Celibacy of the Priest – Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on June 24, 1967
- Pastores Dabo Vobis
- “On the Formation of Priests in the Circumstances of the Present Day” – Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II on March 25, 1992
- Directory On The Ministry And Life Of Priests
- Congregation for the Clergy on March 31, 1994
- The Priest and Confession
- Excerpt, Apostolic Exhortation “Reconciliatio et Paenitentia”, Pope John Paul II on Feb. 12, 1984.
- “The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community”
- Congregation for the Clergy on Aug. 4, 2002