Vatican City. The Symposium on Priesthood is held these days, from February 17 to 19, 2022. Its an International Congress on Vocations: Priests, Laity, Consecrated, promoted by the Center for Research and Anthropology of Vocations and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. And our Congregation is taking part in it through the Theological Institute of Religious Life of Madrid.
The first words heard in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican on the morning of February 17 were challenging. For their harshness, urgency, truth, and what they imply inside and outside the walls of the Church and of our Congregation. Cardinal Ouellet and Pope Francis both delivered those words. The former wanted to situate the initiative of this international symposium in the context of a Church torn apart by the scandals of abuse perpetrated in it and presented the opportunity of these days as one more light in the process of recovering the problematic balance between the “baptismal priesthood” and the “ministerial priesthood.” The Pope, for his part, appealing to the witness of the many ordained ministers who accompany him and whom he accompanies on life’s journey, urged all priests to rediscover the “four fundamental closenesses” of their vocation: closeness to God, closeness to their bishop, closeness among priests and closeness to the people of God. A call that, beyond sterile functionalisms, seeks to awaken the mercy of God in those who are called to be shepherds after his own heart.
The various speakers gradually unpacked the sociological, historical, biblical and theological foundations of the priesthood in all its breadth and also the relationship of the ministerial priesthood with other forms of Christian life, without neglecting more specific issues such as celibacy or the role of women in the Church.
The presence of our Congregation in this symposium through the ITVR of Madrid reflects our commitment as missionaries and formators in the heart of the people of God in crucial moments for the life of the Church, also with regard to the ministerial priesthood. We know that only a deep, conscious and joyful vocational experience can nourish and give impetus to our personal and community life, as well as to the various initiatives that we put in place to present to the men and women of our time the call of the Lord to work in his vineyard. And we want to walk synodically in this direction as well.
(by Adrian de Prado, CMF)