Tuesday, July 25, 2006

This Day in B16 History

A year ago today, a vacation-time meeting with the clergy of the diocese of Aosta (most of whom were, shock and horrors, not wearing clerics) provided the stage for a key moment of the then-new pontificate.

At the encounter in Introd, Benedict XVI stunned many observers by going unplugged for the first time, answering an impromptu range of questions from the priests and speaking publicly without a net on his concept of the church for the first time following his election.

Even if you've seen it before, the extensive transcript is worth reading again. But the part that bears repeating above the others is a warning which has still largely gone unheeded:

In these past few weeks I have received ad limina visits from the Bishops of Sri Lanka and from the southern part of Africa. Vocations there are increasing; indeed, they are so numerous that it is proving impossible to build enough seminaries to accommodate all these young men who want to be priests.

Of course, this joy also carries with it a certain sadness, since at least a part of them comes in the hope of social advancement. By becoming priests, they become like tribal chiefs, they are naturally privileged, they have a different lifestyle, etc. Therefore, weeds and wheat grow together in this beautiful crop of vocations and the Bishops must be very careful in their discernment; they must not merely be content with having many future priests but must see which really are the true vocations, discerning between the weeds and the good wheat.

And may it be so next year....