In a pastoral letter sent to the priests of the world on the feast of St. John Maria Vianney, the prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, said, “The Church rejoices and is proud of the vast majority of her priests, who are good and extremely praiseworthy.”
According to Vatican Radio, the cardinal explained that the Church knows she can count on her priests because “she knows and explicitly recognizes that the vast majority of our priests, despite their human weaknesses and limits, are decent priests who give their lives every day to the Kingdom of God, who love Jesus Christ and the people entrusted to them. They are priests who are sanctified in the daily exercise of their ministry, who persevere until the end in the harvest of the Lord.”
“It’s true there is a small percentage of priests who go astray, sometimes gravely, but the Church desires to repair the evil they have done,” he noted.
Recalling the feast of the Cure d’Ars, the patron of parish priests, Cardinal Hummes underscored the urgency of embarking upon missionary work “in the regions and environments where the Christian faith was preached centuries ago.”
“It is a mission or missionary evangelization within our own flock, meant for those who we baptized but, for different reasons, we did not sufficiently evangelize or who lost their initial fervor and went astray,” he said.
“The post-modern culture of today’s society,” the cardinal observed, “is relativistic, secularized and agnostic, also has a strong erosive effect on the religious faith of many.”
“The Church by nature is missionary. The Church knows that she cannot stay at home and limit herself to welcoming and evangelizing those who seek her in their communities and parishes,” the cardinal said. “It is essential we get up and go in search in the places where people and families reside, live and work…All members of the ecclesial community, pastors, religious and the laity, are called to this mission,” he said.
“When priests are on the move, the Church is on the move,” Cardinal Hummes added. “Otherwise, it would be very difficult to carry out the mission. You, beloved brothers, are the great treasure, the dynamism, the pastoral and missionary inspiration at the foundation, where our baptized live in community.”