Monday, March 16, 2009

"Pauline Year" to "Priestly Year"

While the yearlong celebrations of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St Paul prepare for their final lap, earlier today the Pope announced a focus for the following 12 months on the priesthood.

At the close of the annual plenary of the Congregation for the Clergy, B16 said that, with this year marking the 150th anniversary of the death of St John Vianney -- the Curé of Ars and patron of parish priests -- he would open a "Year of Priesthood" on 19 June; the French cleric's feast is marked on the anniversary of his death, 4 August 1859.

During the jubilee year, the Vatican said the Pope would declare Vianney "patron of all the world's priests" and that a directory for confessors and spiritual directors would just be one of many priesthood-related initiatives to roll out over its course. In remarks at the closing of the Clergy plenary, the pontiff added that the step was being taken "to support the priest's tension toward spiritual perfection upon which, above all else, depends the success of his ministry."

Benedict called on the Congregation, along with diocesan leaders and religious superiors to "promote and coordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives that would appear useful to make better known the importance of the role and mission of the priest in the church and contemporary society."

The "Priestly Year" will close on 19 June 2010, with an international gathering of priests in St Peter's Square over which the Pope will preside.