Following his general audience, given today in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict stressed the importance of the priestly ministry, saying that priests are called to conform themselves to Christ and give their lives for God’s glory and the salvation of souls.
The Holy Father brief address was given to participants in a congress currently being held on the topic of the priesthood and promoted by the Congregation for the Clergy.
The congress marks the fortieth anniversary of the Vatican II document 'Presbyterorum Ordinis,' a decree on the ministry and life of priests.
The Pope told participants, who were accompanied by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, that "this conciliar document marked a stage of fundamental importance in the life of the Church.”
It reflects, he said, “upon the characteristics of priestly ministry which conforms priests to Jesus Christ, the head and shepherd of His people. In His image and at His service, priests must give their lives for the glory of God and the salvation of souls."
The Catholic priesthood has especially been in the public spotlight in recent weeks with the Vatican’s release of a new document regarding homosexuals in seminaries and an ongoing nationwide assessment of seminary formation programs in the U.S.