To mark the 100th anniversary of several Italian pontifical seminaries, the Holy Father met with the student representatives at the Vatican on Saturday. Speaking to the seminarians from the regions of Marche, Puglie, Abruzzo and Moliese, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that mankind in the third millennium has the need for God.
The Holy Father opened his address by noting that the mission of priests “is to scatter with open hands the Word of God over the fields of the world." The Word, “which brings eternal life, is Christ Himself, the only One Who can change the human heart and renew the world, Pope Benedict proclaimed.
“And yet we may ask ourselves: does modern man still feel the need for Christ and His message of salvation?”
Everything is subjective in our world today except empirical science, Pope Benedict continued. “As a consequence, religious experience also risks being seen as a subjective choice, not essential and decisive for life.”
Nevertheless, the Pope pointed out that contemporary man is concerned about his future “seeking certainties and eager for secure points of reference” and “as in all ages, has need of God and sometimes seeks Him without even realizing."
Because of this need, all Christians, especially priests, are called “to respond to this profound longing of the human heart and to offer everyone, using means and methods in keeping with the needs of the time, the unchangeable Word of eternal life which is Christ, Hope of the world,” the Pontiff told the seminarians.
"In the light of this important mission," he added, "the years spent in the seminary assume great importance, a time dedicated to formation and discernment, years in which priority must be given to the constant search for a personal relationship with Jesus."