Church Needs Holy Clergy, Says Pontiff

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging Argentine bishops to continue their evangelizing mission, bringing priests and laity to a fuller knowledge and love of God so they become witnesses to the world.

The Pope said this to a group of prelates, headed by Archbishop Alfonso Delgado Evers of San Juan de Cuyo, on their five-yearly visit to Rome, the second Argentine group this year.
 
The Pontiff affirmed that it is urgent “to carry out an extensive and incisive evangelizing action,” in Argentina and in all countries. He stated that it must not consist “only in transmitting or teaching a doctrine, but of proclaiming Christ, the mystery of his Person and his love.”
 
He reminded the bishops of Paul VI’s “Evangelii Nuntiandi,” explaining that to evangelize “is, first of all, to give witness, in a simple and direct way, of God revealed by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.”
 
The Holy Father emphasized: “One must always have very present that the first way of evangelization is the witness of one’s own life. Holiness of life is a precious gift that you can offer your communities on the path of the true renewal of the Church.”
 
Today, “more than ever,” he said, holiness “is a requirement of the ageless present, given that the man of our time feels the urgent need of a clear and attractive witness of a consistent and exemplary life.”
 
“There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to communicate to others one’s friendship with him,” he added.

Proclaim the Gospel
 
Benedict XVI stated that this “clear and explicit” proclamation “of Christ as Savior of mankind, is inserted in that exciting search for truth, beauty and goodness that characterizes the human being.”
 
Moreover, he said, this proclamation “must not be imposed,” but must spring “from a triple love: of the Word of God, of the Church and of the world.”
 
In order to fulfill this, the Pope asked the bishops, on one hand, “to facilitate access to Sacred Scripture for all the faithful” and, on the other, to “promote the spirit of communion and fidelity to the Magisterium, especially in those who have the mission to transmit fully the message of the Gospel.”
 
The Pontiff also requested that the bishops pay “special attention to the priests,” as “the challenges of the present time require more than ever virtuous priests, full of the spirit of prayer and sacrifice, with a solid formation and dedicated to the service of Christ and of the Church through the exercise of charity.”

He continued: “The priest has the great responsibility to appear irreproachable in his conduct before the faithful, following Christ closely with the support and encouragement of the faithful, above all with his prayer, understanding and spiritual affection.”
 
The Holy Father also stressed the importance of acknowledging the role that the laity is called to undertake in this task. The laity, he said, “must be ever more conscious of its vocation, as living members of the Church and genuine disciples and missionaries of Christ in all things.”
 
He added, “How many benefits can be expected, also for civil society, from the resurgence of a mature laity that seeks holiness in its temporal affairs, in full communion with its pastors, and firm in its apostolic vocation to be evangelical leaven in the world.”

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