"Come to Rome and God will bless you," the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy Cardinal Claudio Hummes wrote in a letter to priests inviting the world's priests to Rome for the conclusion of the Year for Priests. The cardinal asked them to come to show that they are prepared to serve and that they support the Pope in trying times.
Just two months from now, from June 9-11, the International Meeting of Priests will take place in Rome marking the end of this special year for clergy which was inaugurated on June 19, 2009.
Cardinal Hummes repeated the Pope's invitation from February and made his own call to priests from all over the world to come to Rome and join the three-day affair. "Do not, then, hesitate to respond to the heartfelt and cordial invitation of the Holy Father," he wrote.
"Come to Rome and God will bless you," he added.
The cardinal went on to propose that the presence of a multitude of priests in St. Peter's Square for the occasion, in addition to providing a chance for the Pope to "confirm" them, "will be a proactive and responsible way for priests to show themselves ready and unintimidated for the service of the humanity entrusted to them by Jesus Christ.
"Their visibility in the Square, before today's world, will be a proclamation of their being sent into the world not to condemn the world, but to save it."
The prelate underlined that, in such a context, a good turnout will take on a "special significance"
Further motivation for so many priests to be in Rome for the conclusion of the Year for Priests, he continued, is that of offering the Pope "our solidarity, our support, our confidence and our unconditional communion, in the face of frequent attacks directed towards Him ..."
Highlighting the injustice of the accusations that the Pope failed to respond to cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, Cardinal Hummes emphasized that "no one has done as much as Benedict XVI to condemn and combat properly such crimes.
"Therefore, the large presence of priests in the Square with Him will be a determined rejection of the injust attacks of which he is a victim."
Another major event of the Year for Priests, an International Theological Convention, took place in March in with 50 bishops and 500 priests in attendance. They discussed the subject of the ministerial priesthood, touching on such themes as the priestly identity and the vow of celibacy.