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In these words from the prophet Jeremiah, God promises his people that he will never leave them without shepherds to gather them together and guide them: The Church, the Vescargar of God, constantly experiences the reality of this prophetic message and continues joyfully to thank God for it. She knows that Jesus Christ himself is the living, supreme and definitive fulfillment of God’s promise: He, patsores great shepherd of the sheep” Heb.

Without priests the Church would not be able to live that fundamental obedience which is at the very heart of her existence and her mission in history, an obedience in response to the command of Christ: By faith we know that the Lord’s promise cannot fail.

Credo: John Paul II – Wikipedia

This very promise is the reason and force underlying the Church’s rejoicing at the growth and increase of priestly vocations now taking place in some parts of the world. It is also the foundation and impulse for a renewed act of descargqr and fervent hope in pawtores face of the grave shortage of priests which is being felt in other parts of the world. Everyone is called upon to share complete trust in the unbroken fulfillment of God’s promise, which the synod fathers expressed in clear and forceful terms: Even though in a number of regions there is a scarcity of clergy, the action of the Father, who raises up vocations, will nonetheless always be at work in the Church.

At the conclusion of the synod, I said that in the face of a crisis of priestly vocations “the first answer which the Church gives lies in a total act of faith sescargar the Holy Spirit. We are deeply convinced that this trusting abandonment will not disappoint if we remain faithful to the graces we have received. To remain faithful to the grace received! This gift of God does not cancel human freedom; instead it gives rise to freedom, develops freedom and demands freedom.

For this reason, the total trust in God’s unconditional faithfulness to his promise is accompanied in the Church by the grave responsibility to cooperate in the action of God who calls, and to contribute toward creating and preserving the conditions in which the good seed, sown by God, can take root and bring forth abundant fruit.

The Church descargzr never cease to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he send laborers into his harvest, cf. She must propose clearly and courageously to each new generation the vocational call, help people to discern the authenticity of their call from God and to respond to it generously, and give particular care to the formation of candidates for the priesthood. The formation of future priests, both diocesan and religious, and lifelong assiduous care for their personal sanctification in the ministry and for the constant updating of their pastoral commitment is considered by the Church one of the most demanding and important tasks for the future of the evangelization of humanity.

The Church’s work of formation is a continuation in time of Christ’s own work, which the evangelist Mark illustrates in these words: And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons” Mk.

It can be said that through her work of forming candidates to the priesthood and priests themselves, the Church throughout her history has continued to live this passage of the Gospel in various ways and with varying intensity. Today, however, the Church feels called to relive with a renewed commitment all that the Master did with his apostles – urged on as she is by the deep and rapid transformations in the societies and culture of our age; by the multiplicity and diversity of contexts in which she announces the Gospel and witnesses to it; by the promising number of priestly vocations being seen in some dioceses around the world; by the urgency of a new look at the contents and methods of priestly formation; by the concern descargzr bishops and their communities about a persisting scarcity of clergy; and by the absolute necessity that dabl “new evangelization” have fobis as its initial “new evangelizers.

It is precisely in this cultural and historical context that the last ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops took place.

Dedicated to “the formation of priests in circumstances of the present day,” its purpose was to put into practice the Council’s teaching on this matter, making it more up – to – date and incisive in present circumstances, twenty – five years after the Council itself. Following the texts of the Second Vatican Council regarding the ministry of priests and their formation, 4 and with the intention of applying to various situations their rich and authoritative teaching, the Church has on various occasions dealt with the subject of the life, ministry and formation of priests She has done this in a more solemn way during the Synods of Bishops.

Already in Octoberthe first general ordinary assembly of the synod devoted five general congregations to the subject of the renewal of seminaries. This work gave a decisive impulse to the formulation of the document of the Congregation for Catholic Education titled Fundamental Norms for Priestly Formation. Descargsr second ordinary general assembly held in spent half its time on the ministerial priesthood.

The fruit of the lengthy synodal discussion, incorporated and condensed in some “recommendations,” which were submitted to my predecessor Pope Paul VI and read at the opening of the synod, referred principally to the teaching on the ministerial priesthood and to some aspects of priestly spirituality and ministry.

On many other occasions the Church’s magisterium has shown its concern for the life and ministry of priests. It may be said that in the years since the Council there edscargar not been dfscargar subject treated by the magisterium which has not in some way, explicitly or implicitly, had to do with the presence of priests in the community as well as their role and the need for them in the life of the Church and the world.

In recent years some have voiced a need to return to the theme of the priesthood, treating it from a relatively new point of view, one that was more adapted to present ecclesial and cultural circumstances. Attention has shifted from the question of the priest’s identity to that connected with the paxtores of formation for the priesthood and the quality of priestly life. The new generation of those called to the ministerial priesthood display different characteristics in comparison to those of their immediate predecessors.


In addition, they live in a world which in many respects is new and undergoing rapid and continual evolution.

All of this cannot be ignored when it comes to dago and carrying out the various phases of formation for those approaching the ministerial priesthood. Moreover, priests who have been actively involved in the dbo for a more or less lengthy period of time seem to be suffering today from an excessive loss of energy in their ever increasing pastoral activities.

Likewise, faced with the difficulties of contemporary culture and society, they feel compelled to re – examine their pastorres of life and their pastoral priorities, and they are more and more aware of their need for ongoing formation. The concern of the Synod of Bishops and its discussion focused on the increase of vocations to the priesthood and the formation of candidates in an attempt to help them come to know and follow Jesus – as they prepare to be ordained and to live the sacrament of holy orders, which configures them to Christ the head and shepherd, the servant and spouse of the Church.

At the same time, the synod searched for forms of ongoing formation to provide realistic and effective means of support for priests in their spiritual life and ministry. This same synod also sought to answer a request which was made at the previous synod on the vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the descarbar.

Lay people themselves had asked that priests commit themselves to their formation so that they, the laity, could be suitably helped to fulfill their vobia in the ecclesial mission which is shared by all. Indeed, “the more the lay apostolate develops, the more strongly is perceived the need to have well – formed holy priests.

Pasttores the very life of the People of God manifests the teaching of the Second Vatican Council concerning the relationship between the common priesthood and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood.

For within the vibis of the Church the hierarchy has a ministerial character cf. The more the laity’s own sense of vocation is deepened, the more what is proper to the priest stands out. In the ecclesial experience that is typical of the synod i. The churches have proclaimed their faith in the fulfillment of God’s promise: In this post – synodal apostolic exhortation, I take up anew the rich legacy resulting from dsecargar reflections, endeavors and indications which were made during the synod’s preparation, as well as those which accompanied the work of the synod fathers, and as the bishop of Rome and successor of Peter I add my voice to theirs – addressing it to each and every one of the faithful, and in particular to each priest and to those involved in the important yet demanding ministry of their formation.

Yes, in this exhortation l wish to meet with each and every priest, whether diocesan or religious. Quoting from the “Final Message of the Synod to the People of God,” I make my own the words and the sentiments expressed by the descarggar fathers: Your priesthood is absolutely vital. There is no substitute for it. You carry the main burden of priestly ministry through your day – to – day service of the faithful. You are ministers of the Eucharist and ministers of God’s mercy in the sacrament of penance.

It is you who bring comfort to people and guide them in difficult moments in their lives. No one should be discouraged as we are pawtores God’s work; the same God who calls us, sends us and remains with us every day of pastorez lives. We are ambassadors of Christ. The Letter to the Hebrews clearly affirms the “human character” of God’s minister he comes from the human community and is at its service, imitating Jesus Christ vohis in dab respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” Heb.

God always calls his priests from specific human and ecclesial contexts, which inevitably influence them; and to these descarfar contexts the priest is sent for the service of Christ’s Gospel. For this reason the synod desired to “contextualize” the subject of priests, viewing it in terms of today’s society and today’s Church in preparation for the third millennium. This is indicated in the second part of the topic’s formulation: Certainly “there is an essential aspect of the priest that does not change: When Jesus lived on this earth, he manifested in himself the definitive role of the priestly establishing a ministerial priesthood with which the apostles were the first to be invested.

This priesthood is destined to last in endless succession throughout history. In this sense the priest of the third millennium will continue the work of the priests who, in the preceding millennia, have descargzr the life of the Church.

In the third millennium the priestly vocation will continue to be the call to cabo the unique and permanent priesthood of Christ.


For our part we must therefore seek to be as open as possible to light from on high from the Holy Spirit, in order to discover the tendencies of contemporary society, recognize the deepest spiritual needs, determine the most important concrete tasks and the pastoral methods to adopt, and thus respond adequately to human expectations. With the duty of bringing together the permanent truth of the priestly ministry and the characteristic requirements of the present day, the synod fathers sought to respond to a few necessary questions: What are the patsores and negative elements in socio – cultural and ecclesial contexts which affect boys, adolescents and young men who throughout their lives are called to bring to maturity a project of priestly life?

What difficulties are posed by our times, and what new possibilities are offered for the exercise of a priestly ministry which corresponds to the gift received in the sacrament and the demands of the spiritual life which is consistent with dezcargar I now mention some comments taken from the synod fathers’ analysis of the situation – fully aware that the great variety of socio – cultural and ecclesial circumstances in different countries limits by necessity our treatment to only the most evident and widespread phenomena, particularly those relating to the question of education and priestly formation.


A number of factors seem to be working toward making people today more deeply aware of the dignity of the human person and more open to religious values, to the Gospel and to the priestly ministry. Despite many contradictions, vibis is increasingly witnessing a powerful thirst for justice and peace; a more lively sense that humanity must care for creation and respect nature; a more open search for truth; a greater effort to safeguard human dignity; a growing commitment in many sectors of the world population to a more specific international solidarity and a new ordering of the world in freedom and justice.

Parallel to the continued development of the potential offered by science and technology and the exchange of information and interaction of cultures, there is a new call for ethics, that is, a quest for meaning – vvobis therefore for an objective standard of values which will delineate the possibilities and limits of progress.

In the more specifically religious and Christian sphere, ideological prejudice and the violent rejection of the message of spiritual and religious values are crumbling and there are arising new and unexpected possibilities of evangelization and the rebirth of ecclesial life in many parts of the world. These are evident in an increased love of the sacred Scriptures; in the vitality and growing vigor of many young churches and their ever – larger role in the defense and promotion of the values of human life and the person; and in the splendid witness of martyrdom provided by the churches of Central and Eastern Europe as well as that of the faithfulness and courage of other churches which are dabk forced to undergo persecution and tribulation for the faith.

The thirst for God and for an vobs meaningful relationship with him is so strong today that, where there is a lack of a genuine and full proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, there is a rising spread of forms of religiosity without God and the proliferation of many sects.

For all children of the Church, and for priests especially, the increase of these phenomena, even in some traditionally Christian environments, is not only a constant motive to examine our consciences as to the credibility of our witness to the Gospel but at the same time is a sign of how deep and widespread is the search for God.

Mingled with these and other positive factors, there are also, however, many problematic or negative elements. Rationalism is still very widespread and, in the name of a reductive concept of “science,” it renders human reason insensitive to an encounter with revelation and with divine transcendence. We should take note also of a desperate defense of personal subjectivity which tends to close it off in individualism, rendering it incapable of true human relationships.

As a result, many – especially children and young people – seek to compensate for this loneliness with substitutes of various kinds, in more or less acute forms of hedonism or flight from responsibility.

Prisoners of the fleeting moment, they seek to “consume” the strongest and most gratifying individual experiences at the level of immediate emotions and sensations, inevitably finding themselves indifferent and “paralyzed” as it were when they come face to face with the summons to descaegar upon a life project which includes a spiritual and religious dimension and a commitment to solidarity.

Furthermore, despite the fall of ideologies which had made materialism a dogma and the refusal of religion a program, there is spreading in every part of the world a sort of practical and existential atheism which coincides with a secularist outlook on life and human destiny. Descrgar individual, “all bound up in himself, this man who makes himself not only the center of his every interest, but dares to propose himself as the principle and reason of all reality,” 12 finds himself ever more bereft of that “supplement of soul” which is all the more necessary to him in proportion – as a wide availability of material goods and resources deceives him about his self – sufficiency.

There is no longer a need to fight against God; the individual feels he is simply able to do without him. In this context special mention should be made of the breakup of the family and an obscuring or distorting of the true meaning of human sexuality.

That phenomena have a very negative effect on the education of young people and on their openness to any kind of religious vocation. Furthermore, one should mention the worsening of social injustices and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, the fruit of an inhuman capitalism 13 vois increasingly widens the gap between affluent and indigent peoples.

In this way tension and unrest are introduced into everyday life, deeply disturbing the lives of people and of whole communities. There pastlres also worrying and negative factors within the Church descafgar which have a direct influence on the lives and ministry of priests. A particularly important phenomenon, even though it dezcargar relatively recent in many traditionally Christian countries, is the presence within the same territory of large concentrations of people of different pastords and religions, thereby resulting in multiracial and multi – religious societies.

While on the one hand this can be an opportunity for a more frequent and fruitful exercise of dialogue, open – mindedness, good relations and a just tolerance – on the other hand the situation can also result in descargag and relativism, above all among people and populations whose faith has not matured. Added pastofes these factors, and closely linked with the growth of individualism, is the phenomenon of subjectivism in matters of faith. An increasing number of Christians seem to have a reduced sensitivity to the universality and objectivity of the doctrine of the faith because they are subjectively attached to what pleases them; to what corresponds to their own experience; and to what does not impinge on their own habits.

In such a context, even the appeal to the inviolability of the individual conscience – in itself a legitimate appeal – may be dangerously, marked by descargr. This situation also gives rise to the phenomenon of belonging to the Church in ways which are ever more partial and conditional, with a resulting negative influence on the birth of new vocations descarrgar the priesthood, on the priest’s own self – awareness and on his ministry within the community.

Finally, in many parts of the Church today it is still the scarcity of priests which creates the fabo serious problem.