“Men do not need the human qualities of the pastors, but rather the warm friendship of God who must dwell in us”, says Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and President of CCEE, in a message sent to the participants of the European Congress of national delegates for the pastoral care of vocations in Tirana until next March 3rd.
Recalling the situation of vocations in Europe affected by “a certain decrease in vocations to the priesthood and religious life”, the CCEE President invited the over fifty participants to “think about the changes taking place, to adapt our pastoral care by keeping steady to the pillars of vocation, of formation and of the priestly mission and of the mission of religious men and women”.
For the Cardinal of Genoa, God continues to call today “but a certain general deafness for everything that requires one forever seems to have increased! Moreover, the subtle voice of Jesus does not make noise and does not impose himself, but requires attention, capacity for silence and attention. It often seems to be suffocated by other voices “.
To the national delegates of the Bishops’ Conferences gathering to exchange around the vocational proposals set up by their respective Bishops’ Conferences and to take stock of the Vatican document In Verbo Tuo*, the Cardinal recalled how the reduction of vocations is not a matter of few workers, but “represents a challenge for the entire Christian community”.
So what to do? For the President of CCEE “the first way to react to the challenge is – together with a more intense prayer – a rediscovery of the irreplaceable preciousness of the Priesthood, of its beauty, of its charm. When a priest or a consecrated person lives that being with him, heart to heart in a radical way, then every word, gesture, sacrifice, emanates a light and a beauty that – despite poverty and sins – reveals the face of the great Shepherd. The availability for spiritual accompaniment of young people must have a special place in their ministry. We must encourage our priests by standing with them beside him. We must encourage Christian families to not be afraid of losing their children if called and that they may pray to the Lord for the grace of a vocation in their womb. We must encourage parishes, movements, associations, youth groups, so that – in appropriate ways – they make shining the proposal of the priesthood and of the consecrated life”.
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