Yesterday Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone revealed the origin of the Pope's idea for a Year for Priests in an interview with L'Osservatore Romano. According to the cardinal, the idea was sparked by a proposal to mark the 150th anniversary of St. Jean Vianney's death with a year of prayer for priests and the problems they face.
Cardinal Bertone explained that the proposal, made at the end of the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word, quickly found its way to the Pope’s desk and called for a year of prayer reflecting on the Word of God.
In addition, he added, “the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Cure of Ars and the emergence of the problems involving many priests led Benedict XVI to promulgate the Year for Priests, thus demonstrating special attention for priests, priestly vocations and promoting in all the people of God a movement of growing affection and closeness to ordained ministers.”
Cardinal Bertone also underscored that the Holy Father has always shown great affection for priests, especially in his meetings with priests where he addresses the concrete aspects of their lives, giving pointed responses to their questions.
He went on to note that the Church hopes to re-establish contact and reach out to priests who have abandoned their ministry for different reasons.
Many initiatives “are directed at strengthening the awareness of the identity and mission of the priest,” who is called to teach by example in the Church and in society.
“The holy priests who have been present throughout the history of the Church will not cease to protect and sustain the path of renewal proposed by Benedict XVI,” the cardinal explained.