VATICAN CITY, JUL 28, 2005 (VIS) - Peter's attachment to his flock, priestly vocations, and the participation of divorced Catholics in the Eucharist were the central themes of Benedict XVI's meeting with the clergy of the diocese of Aosta, held at the church of Introd on Monday, July 25. The "Osservatore Romano" newspaper yesterday published the complete text of this meeting, of which some paragraphs are given below:
"The history of the Church has always been marked, in various different forms, by questions that have truly tormented us. What must be done? ... I would like to respond briefly, but I would also like to point out that the Pope is not an oracle, he is infallible only in very rare situations, as we know. Therefore I share these questions with you. I too suffer. But all of us together wish ... to transform problems through suffering, because suffering is the way to transformation, and without it nothing is transformed. This is also the meaning of to the parable of the grain of wheat that falls to the earth."
Going on to refer to the crisis of vocations in the West, the Pope pointed out how the western world has reached a point "in which there is no longer any evidence of the need for God, still less for Christ. ... Consequently, it becomes difficult to believe, and if it is difficult to believe it is even more difficult to offer one's life to the Lord, to be His servant. This is clearly a torment, one particular to our own historical times in which the so-called great Churches generally appear to be moribund. ... On the other hand sects, which present themselves with the certainty of a minimal faith, are growing. ... We must traverse this tunnel patiently, in the certainty that Christ is the answer and that in the end His light will reappear."
On the subject of divorced Catholics who have remarried, Benedict XVI described as "particularly painful" the "situation of those who married in Church out of tradition, without being true believers; then, finding themselves in a new and non-valid marriage, they convert, find faith, and feel excluded from the Sacrament (of the Eucharist)."
The Pope recalled that when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith he invited several episcopal conferences to study the question of a "Sacrament celebrated without faith," and "whether it is truly possible to find therein a reason for invalidity, because the Sacrament was lacking an essential dimension. ... The problem is very difficult and must be studied profoundly."
In closing, the Holy Father announced that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is preparing a document on the Church's closeness to prisoners.
BXVI-VACATIONS/MEETING CLERGY/INTROD VIS 20050728 (470)