.- On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI addressed thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Angelus prayer. Benedict XVI summed up the Pauline Year, which comes to an end tonight, and told those present to follow St. Paul in their passion for Christ and the Gospel.
The Pope launched the Pauline Year to remember the 2,000 years since the birth of the Apostle of Tarsus. The Pauline Year, the Holy Father explained, was "a true period of grace in which, through pilgrimages, catecheses, publications and various initiatives, the figure of Saint Paul was offered again to the entire Church. His vibrant message among Christian communities revived everywhere the passion for Christ and the Gospel.”
The Apostle Paul, Pope Benedict added, represents “a splendid model to follow” in the Year for Priests, which began on June 19, a year which can strengthen priests’ commitment to inner renewal, making them "stronger and more incisive evangelical witnesses in today’s world.”
Pope of Tarsus, he continued, exemplifies the priest who identifies totally with his ministry, as did the Curé d’Ars, conscious that he carries a priceless treasure, which is the message of salvation, but in an “earthen vessel.”
“For this reason he is at the same time both strong and humble, intimately convinced that everything is due to God, everything is his grace.”
“The presbyter must belong wholly to Christ and the Church, to whom he must devote his undivided love, like a faithful husband to his wife,” the Pontiff expounded.
Pope Benedict XVI concluded: “Dear friends, together with Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles, we now invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary that she may obtain from the Lord many blessings for priests during the Year for Priests which just began. May Our Lady, whom Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney loved so much and who persuaded his parishioners to love, help each and every priest to reinvigorate the gift of God which in him is virtue of the holy Ordination, so that he may grow in holiness and be ready to bear witness, if necessary through martyrdom, of the beauty of his total and final consecration to Christ and the Church.”
After the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope greeted Maronite Catholic faithful from Latakiyah, Syria and their parish priest.