Despite shortage in some areas, priestly mission is irreplaceable, says Pope Benedict

.- During Pope Benedict XVI’s Regina Coeli prayer on Sunday, he stressed thecontinued need for priestly vocations throughout the world, explaining how priesthood, married life, and consecrated religious life all must work together for the good of the entire Church.

Prior to leadingthe Marian prayer, the Pope greeted a throng of pilgrims gathered belowhis study window in St. Peter’s Square and expressed joy at his own ordination of fifteen priests earlier that day at the Vatican Basilica.

He recalled that Sunday’s particular emphasis on Jesus as the Good Shepherd relates well to the celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations--also held Sunday--the theme of which was: "Vocation in the mystery of the Church."

"Christianvocation," Benedict said, "is the renewal of the personal friendship with Jesus Christ, which gives full meaning to one's existence andmakes it receptive to the Kingdom of God. The Church lives off this friendship, nourished by the Word and by the Sacraments, holy truthsespecially entrusted to the ministry of bishops, priests and deaconsconsecrated by the Sacrament of Holy Orders."

He explained that "for this reason, the priest's mission is irreplaceable; and although in some areas there is a lack of clergy, it must not bedoubted that God continues to call boys, young men and adults to leaveeverything and dedicate themselves to preaching the Gospel and to pastoral ministry."

“Another special way to follow Christ”, the Pope said, “is the vocation to consecrated life, expressed though an existence of poverty, chastity and obedience,entirely dedicated to God in contemplation and prayer, while serving our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest and poorest."

"Christian marriage”, he added”, is also and to all effects a vocation to sanctity. He stressed that “the example of saintly parents is the primary condition favoring the growth of priestly and religious vocations."

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