Vatican faces ‘urgent’ need for priests with new vocations guidelines
In an effort to respond to a “clear and pressing” need for priests, the Vatican released a set of guidelines to help bishops and church communities promote, recruit and educate a new generation of men for the priesthood.
The church needs “suitable” candidates and must avoid men who “show signs of being profoundly fragile personalities,” while helping others heal from any possible “individual deviations” from their vocations, the document said.
“The witness of Christian communities giving account of the faith that is in them becomes even more necessary,” because it’s a community of believers committed to passing on God’s love that “prepares the Lord’s call that invites people to consecration and mission,” it said.
Based on responses to a questionnaire sent to bishops’ conferences and directors of national vocations offices around the world in 2008, the Congregation for Catholic Education sought to address a widespread demand for pastoral guidelines for fostering vocations “based on clear and well-founded theology of vocation and of the identity of the ministerial priesthood.”
Titled “Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry,” the 29-page document was released June 25. It also marked the 70th anniversary of the inauguration of the congregation’s Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations.
The challenge of attracting men to the priesthood is made more difficult by declining birthrates in the developed world and a materialist, secular culture in which people are less likely to make “courageous and demanding Gospel choices” in their lives, the document said.
“In the West, there is a prevailing culture of indifference to the Christian faith, a culture unable to understand the value of vocations to a special consecration,” it said.
Key to turning things around isn’t just setting up new programs and initiatives, but building a vibrant, active and dedicated community of Catholics, united in prayer and with Christ, it said. [More]