Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shortage of priestly vocations suggests problems in community: Cardinal Pell

As he ordained 5 men to the priesthood, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia reflected that when a Catholic community does not produce priestly vocations, something is amiss.

When there are no vocations of any type for decades we need to examine the priorities of the Catholic community itself, said Pell.

“Some Catholic communities unfortunately are not life giving,” said the cardinal in his homily as five young men were ordained to the priesthood in an “historic celebration for the Church” at St Mary’s Cathedral last Saturday.

“Some Catholic communities can be contraceptive, even while Catholic life seems on the surface to continue vigorously.

“This phenomenon of different growth rates deserves examination and discussion, although focusing energies on the promotion of faith, on encouraging the recognition and love of Jesus as the son of God as well as the son of Mary (‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me’), on regular prayer, Catholic orthodoxy, and an explicit and regular explanation to young people of the need of priests and Catholic leadership and service in many areas is essential; and sometimes missing or obscured.”

The cardinal said whatever the other changes in society, which are often difficult to interpret, we can be sure God is calling enough men to be priests, although many might not be able to “hear the call because they are tuned in on different wavelengths or because they find too much static on the line”.

“Every priestly vocation is a mystery, a mystery where the grace of God, personal freedom, family and community interact under Divine providence,” he said.

"Church history has seen many changes; groups have come, grown strong, withered and sometimes disappeared or continued at a reduced level.

“We have seen groups of widows, hermits, monks, friars, religious orders; the so-called new movements follow these patterns in different ways. But the sacrament of baptism has
always been the foundation as Christian life is lived out in local communities served
and led by priests.”

He added: “Unless a goodly number of young men and women step forward to lead and serve we will not be able to retain the wonderful strengths we have, much less develop them further for the glory of God.

“We thank God for the fact that these five young men have answered the call and we pray that the wonderful promise of this morning is translated into many years of prayer, service and effective leadership.”

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