.- This morning, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, presented John Paul II’s long awaited Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2005. Archbishop Csaba Ternyak and Msgr. Giovanni Carru, respectively secretary and under-secretary of the congregation were also present at this morning’s press conference and presentation of the letter.
The Vatican published the eleven-page document in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Polish. It was dated March 13th.
Cardinal Castrillon told reporters that this year's Letter is particularly significant because it was signed in "a place marked by the Cross of Christ," Rome's Gemelli Hospital.
The cardinal said that, "In the silence of his suffering, the Pope, with the example of a life given 'to the end', repeats the Pauline affirmation: 'we preach Christ crucified, ... the power of God and the wisdom of God,' loving all men with Christ's charity and completing in his own body what is lacking in the passion of the one Savior and Redeemer," referring to Colossians 1:24.
The prefect continued, saying, "From his own cross, the Pope indicates to each priest the unfathomable dignity, conferred upon him by ordination, of being able to pronounce, 'in persona Christi,' the words that instituted the Eucharistic mystery, and of receiving the capacity to transform his own priestly existence into a radical gift for the Church and for humanity."
"Conformed to Christ,” he said, “we priests are called by the Pope to transform ourselves into Eucharistic bread, giving thanks to God with our own lives, for the work of salvation achieved by His only begotten Son."
Cardinal Castrillon noted that the Holy Father "reminds us of 'the obedience of love,' that grateful obligation with which we have been entrusted, to give ourselves entirely to the People of God, an obligation that we assumed on the day of our priestly ordination and that finds expression, as an example for all the faithful, in following the authoritative discernment of bishops, imitating Christ Who at the last Supper entrusted Himself to the Church.”
What we are giving is our autonomy, even our legitimate autonomy, a giving against which modern culture rebels as it seeks self-realization in reason unfettered by any limitation."
"Once more,” he continued, “in this year of the Eucharist, the Holy Father introduces us with love to the 'mysterium Paschae', which is the great mystery of faith.”
With the gentleness of faith, we are invited by the Pope to reverently safeguard the liturgical norms that not only protect the sacredness of the Rite but give it luster. We priests will accept his words in order to be custodians of the Eucharist, in a continuous vigil and in all corners of the earth, and on our knees before the Tabernacle we will place all our solitude."
The cardinal concluded by highlighting the fact that "despite the passing of the years, strengthened by the Pope's words, we will spread the youthfulness of God Who is in us and irradiate it to those we meet on our way.”
The Holy Father assures us that from priestly sanctity will grow new life for the Church, with vocations that will guarantee the ardor of new evangelization, nourished by the bread of eternal life."
Read the full document at: