Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genova, Italy said that priests should follow the model of Pope Benedict XVI in fulfilling their missions without fear of criticism.
The country's bishops were gathered in Ancona, Italy for the conclusion of their winter meetings on Jan. 27. Cardinal Bagnasco, president of the bishops’ conference, gave the homily during the closing Mass in the city's cathedral.
"If the nihilistic culture tends to erase the interior life of people, priests must help the faithful to rediscover it,” Cardinal Bagnasco. “And in this mission they cannot be afraid of incomprehension or criticisms."
"The example to follow is that of Pope Benedict XVI, who teaches us humility, the disarming clarity of the truth, the lucid wisdom of dialogue, the ardent prudence of action, freedom before the world and the courage that comes from knowing he is in the hands of God."
Cardinal Bagnasco added that priests have the task of maintaining their hope without hesitation. This hope enables them to respond to the expectations "not only of the Catholic community, but also those the whole of society demands of us — despite our limits and weaknesses — words that echo those of the Lord."
"We are called and driven to put the light of our priesthood in service to the world, to relate it to the many spheres of life, and to illuminate the perennial questions of the mystery of pain and death, the meaning of our being, each of our destines, the reason for this extraordinary and dramatic universe and the moral good and evil," the cardinal said.
He encouraged priests to fight against the routine that makes "life fade" and "dulls the faith," which "numbs the vibration of the soul before the Eucharistic mystery."
The cardinal exhorted his fellow priests to "remember daily the 'yes' to him who chose us by his mercy and who invested us with his priesthood."