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Cardinal Bertone says mission of priest is to 'bring Heaven down to Earth'
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.- Celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood at a recent Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the mission of the priest is “to bring heaven down to earth, to bring about the communion of all men and women with God.”

During his homily at the July 6 Mass in Rome, the cardinal explained that the mission of the priest “consists in giving hope to people, in proclaiming that God is good, in alleviating the sorrows of the afflicted, in bringing the meaning of heaven to those who overwhelmed by the tribulations of this earth.”

“As a priest and bishop many times I have experienced the beauty and strength of the Gospel of Jesus, which is truly capable of changing the lives of people,” Cardinal Bertone noted. “In order to understand the live of a priest, one doesn’t necessarily need to ask what a priest does, but rather who a priest is.”

A priest, explained the prelate, “is someone in love with Jesus Christ, his friend.”

“I have also increasingly experienced in these 50 years that the priesthood is an intimate relationship of friendship with Jesus,” he added. “This divine presence has accompanied me and protected me always.”

The cardinal then pointed to Pope Benedict XVI as a “luminous example” of the priesthood and someone who calls on priests to deepen their friendship with Jesus and exhorts them that “ecclesial communion is the basis for an incisive evangelical testimony.”

“When I think of the Church,” he continued, “I think if the faces and names of so many people I have met, appreciated and have strengthened me to serve with my priesthood: beloved priests and so many exemplary priests, faithful religious, generous and strong laypeople, families united together who bear witness to love, young people and the elderly, the humble and the powerful of the earth, men and women in Italy and in the entire continent, happy to have chose Christ and his Gospel.”

Concluding his homily, Cardinal Bertone said, “When I was ordained a priest 50 years ago, as every Salesian of Don Bosco, I was ready to begin the mission amidst young people. This indeed happened, but in a context full of ecclesial spirit: the Pontifical Salesian University, where I passionately devoted my energies.”

“Later came other responsibilities which made me love the particular churches to which I was sent, and with them, the universal Church even more.”

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