By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a world where many people are confused about right and wrong and even about the meaning of life, priests are called to guide them to Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said.
With just two months left in the Year for Priests, the pope began a series of audience talks about the priesthood April 14, saying that over the coming weeks he would look specifically at the priest’s mission to teach, sanctify and govern.
Speaking on behalf of the groups present at the audience, Vatican officials wished the pope a happy birthday in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Polish and Italian. The pope was to celebrate his 83rd birthday April 16.
Although the international media was still running stories about clerical sex abuse, the pope did not mention the scandal in his audience talk, but rather spoke about how priests are called to identify so completely with Christ that their words, actions and lives fully represent Christ on earth.
The teaching mission of a priest is especially important today because “we are living amid great confusion about the fundamental choices in life,” about the meaning of life and about what is good and what is bad, he said.
Like Jesus who taught the crowds that followed him and gave them direction, the pope said, priests today are called to help people find their way toward goodness, joy and eternal life.
The priest’s task is “to make present amid the confusion and disorientation of our age the light of the word of God, the light that is Christ himself,” he said.
“The priest does not teach his own ideas” and “he does not speak on his own” or try to gather a circle of admirers around him, but he proclaims the word of God, the pope said.
At the same time, the pope said, “he is not a spokesman who simply reads a text that is not his own.”
A priest must identify so closely with Christ that the Lord’s teaching and values become the priest’s own, he said.
In preparing homilies, teaching religious education classes, counseling people “and especially through that unwritten book that is his life, the priest must teach — not with the presumption of one who tries to impose his own truth, but with the humble certainty of one who has encountered the truth, been seized and transformed by it,” the pope said.
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Editor’s Note: The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100414_en.html.
The text of the pope’s audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100414_sp.html.
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