Tag Archives: Priests

Dear Benedict: Go to hell!

This print from Martin Luther’s Wider das Bapstum zu Rom vom Teuffel gestifft, (Against the Papacy founded by the Devil, 1545) depicts the Pope with ass’s ears sitting on a pyre erected in the mouth of Hell, represented by an enormous monster. The Pope, with hands held together in prayer is surrounded by demons who fly around him and hold the papal tiara above his head.

Reform minded blindness

It is Holy Thursday.  The day during Holy Week that the church commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Ordination. I will spend the entire evening and into the early morning hours of Good Friday alone in the church praying with Jesus Christ–body, blood, soul, and divinity truly present within the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar–The Eucharist.

This morning I learned who I’ll be praying for: Pope Benedict The XVI and all who have validly received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. But, particularly those who have strayed from the promises they made at ordination.

I will also be praying for this terribly misguided soul who just today wrote on the Facebook page of the dissident group, Call To Action, these very words:

Dear Benedict: Go to hell!

Note: As of 5pm P.S.T. Call To Action has yet to delete the offensive remark… To leave a charitable protest you can find their site here.

The Spiritual Testament of Fr. Stefano Gobbi — (March 22, 1930 – June 29, 2011)

My Spiritual Testament

Ave Maria
Milan, January 1, 2011

First Saturday of the month and year

I accept death however and whenever the Lord desires, renewing in the Immaculate Heart of Mary my “Yes” to the Divine Will.

I leave as my spiritual testament everything that is written in the book, “To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons,” and I attest that the messages contained therein were received by me under the form of interior locutions.

In a spirit of thanksgiving to Our Lord and to Our Lady, I ask that, after my funeral Mass, the Magnificat be sung by all.

I ask for a very simple funeral.  In lieu of flowers, I request that works of charity be done.  I desire to be buried in Dongo, in the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears, at the foot of the Altar of the Crucifix. If that is not readily available, then I ask for a temporary burial in the Chapel of the Clergy in the cemetery in Dongo.

As I have consecrated every moment of my life, in the same way I consecrate to the Immaculate Heart of Mary the moment of my passing from earth to Heaven and from time to eternity.

I thank everyone for all the good that I have received. I ask pardon if I have involuntarily offended anyone.

To all members of the Marian Movement of Priests and of the Marian Movement, I promise my special protection and a particular help from Heaven where I hope to enter through the mercy of the Lord and with the help of your prayer.

I bid you goodbye, as I look forward to meeting you under the glorious mantle of the Queen of All Saints, and I bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Father Stefano Gobbi, priest


From the Marian Movement of Priests:

Fr. Gobbi died in Milan, Italy at 3:00 PM (local Italian time) on June 29, 2011, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. He had been hospitalized since June 19 after suffering a heart attack.

All of the national and regional directors of the MMP were gathered for their annual spiritual exercises at the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy from June 26 – July 2. Fr. Gobbi’s body was taken from Milan to Collevalenza on June 30, where a Mass was presided by Cardinal Ivan Dias.

That same day, his remains were returned to Dongo, Como, Italy (his birthplace) where the funeral Mass was celebrated on Saturday, July 2, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Marian Movement of Priests
National Headquarters

Why Catholics Should Never Sing Negro Spirituals

A Woman Pope is not coming…


This past week the Vatican announced changes made last May to procedures for dealing with what it calls “exceptionally serious crimes”. The revised list addressed serious crimes (graviora delicta) directed against both morals and the celebration of sacraments. Certain dissident groups within the Catholic Church having long sought the ordination of women–a serious abuse concerning the celebration of sacraments–were angered that the attempted ordination of women would be set on par with the moral crime of pedophilia. This wasn’t the case. But, it was an opportunity to gain some badly needed press for their long-frustrated and empty cause. 

Most of the fringe press releases following the Vatican’s annoucement were filled with the same-old angry diatribes directed against “those mean old patriarchal types and the institutional church”, but at least one clever fellow was creative in his own criticisms–Although clear proof before both God and man that Catholics should never, ever, sing Negro spirituals…  

For an accurate report on the Vatican annoucement: [CLICK HERE]

Hat Tip to Fr. Z at WDTPRS


Saint Thérèse: How my ‘adopting a priest with prayer’ came about…

Saint Thérèse, sister and friend of priests, pray for us…

For the past few weeks I’ve been offering my work day in reparation for my sins, those of the whole world, and for priests as well. I wish I could say that I’ve been consistent in these prayers during this time, but I haven’t. In fact, following my confession this past Sunday I spoke with the priest about my current lackadaisical attitude towards prayer…

Without knowledge of my recent prayer intentions, the priest gave me my penance: I am to pray during work in reparation for my sins, and after a brief pause, he added, “and for the sins of we priest’s too…”

I left confession a bit amazed (at the action of the Holy Spirit) remarking to my wife back in the car, saying, “Huh! My penance is exactly what I’ve been doing of late.

I suppose this penance could fall under a couple of categories: 1. God inspiring me to fortitude; or, 2. God convicting me of sloth (Note: Sloth begets in the soul a spirit of indifference in our spiritual duties and a disgust for prayer). I’m leaning hopefully toward the 3rd option, a combination of both…

A couple days later I received an e-mail with the latest parish bulletin information to place on our mission blog, and this immediately caught my attention:     


In 1996 the Oakland, CA Diocese started this program and we just learned about it and would like to start it in the Archdiocese of Portland. Priests have a Divine Mission but they are also very human and daily face the problems and struggles common to all of us. They have a great need of our support in prayer, love and concern. If you would be willing to pray each day for a year for an individual priest in the Archdiocese of Portland, please email Adoptapriestwithprayer@yahoo.com or mail your name and address to Mary Ann Schlumpberger, 2736 Fish Hatchery Rd., Grants Pass, OR 97527. Mary Ann will e-mail or mail you the name of a priest for you. Since the program is just getting started here, it will take a bit to get organized. No meetings, no dues, just prayer!

Last night I contacted Mary Ann via e-mail, and today she replied. (You can view the priest I’ll be praying for this year on the right sidebar– Fr. Elwin Schwab.

A side story: I’ve also been lamenting lately the fact that when our family came into the church 12 years ago we placed our spiritual trust in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel by enrolling in the Brown Scapular Devotion. A sacramental which requires:

 1.The scapular must be worn and the wearer must be enrolled in the scapular. 2. Chastity to one’s state in life must be observed. 3. One must fast from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 4. Recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin or the rosary everyday.

Slouching back to sloth, I am…

So, tonight when considering what daily prayer(s) I could recite on behalf Fr. Schwab, I found myself drawn to Saint Thérèse, a friend of both hardened sinners and of priests.  Here is the daily prayer I’ve decided upon that will be found within my heart at work for both Fr. Schwabb and myself:

Saint Thérèse, sister and friend of priests, pray for us…

I’m finding that we must do more than simply pray for more vocations, we must pray to sustain them also. And I’m also learning that when we ourselves forget to pray, heaven doesn’t. Perhaps someone is doing a good work from heaven upon the earth… The next year will tell.

Please pray for us. 


Hog Heaven or Hell?: South Florida Archbishop Thomas Wenski on his new post and new Harley

[Click To Enlarge] 

Choose any of the links below documenting the history of corruption within South Florida under the episcopate of John C. Favalora of Miami and you’ll understand the job ahead for Archbishop Thomas Wenski. By this account the new Archbishop is holy and devout, so prospects look good for South Florida Catholics. Brick by brick as they say… The article follows, here’s the video.

[Via Renew America

1. Attorney E-mails Pope, Defends Fired Priest
2. Archdiocese of Miami Sued
3. Archbishop’s “XStream” Investment
4. Attorney: Archbishop Is Friend of Pedophile
5. Whistleblower Priest’s Lawsuit Dismissed
6. Attorney: Vatican Upset with Miami Archdiocese
7. Attorney: Pope Aware of Miami Priest’s Case
8. Attorney: Gay Priest Gave Dog Communion
9. CPA, Priest’s Attorney Spar in Miami
10. Accusations at Fever Pitch in Miami Archdiocese
11. Priest Drops Lawsuit Against Miami Archdiocese
12. Miami Priest, Deacon Guilty of Embezzlement, Extortion?
13. Attorney: Priests Claim 70 Percent of U.S. Bishops Are Gay
14. Catholics Continue to Clash in Miami archdiocese
15. Grievance Filed Against Catholic Attorney, Lay Activist, and Columnist
16. Girl, Parents Sue Miami Archdiocese
17. Wikipedia User Wrongly Cites Priest as “Accused Molester”
18. Seminary Mag’s ‘Gay’ Ads Cause Stir
19. Miami Archdiocese Sued
20. Catholic University to Give Award to Goddess-Worshipping Theologian
21. Lambs to Slaughter: Again and Again, Local Claims of Abuse Point to One Priest, the Rev. Neil Doherty, and the Catholic Archdiocese that Protected Him
22. Speak No Evil: When a Margate Priest Misbehaved, the Archdiocese Punished His Secretary
23. “Gay-Friendly” Miami Archdiocese Features Goddess-Worshipping Nun at Diocesan University
24. Miami Archdiocese Sponsors Concert by Gay Men’s Chorus
25. Monsignor Defends ‘Gay Chorus’
26. ‘The Virtuous One’
27. “The Priest, the Stripper, and Their Baby”
28. Ex-Stripper: Miami Priest Fathered My Baby
29.. Along Came a Spider: What the Pope Doesn’t See
30. New Sex Abuse Claims Against Fmr. Miami Priest
31. 2 Men File Sex Abuse Suits Against Miami Archdiocese
32. Did Archbishop Favalora of Miami Knowingly Employ a Boy-Raping Priest?

Bishop Thomas Wenski leads the third annual “Bike With The Bishop” motorcycle run, beginning in east Orlando, to benefit Catholic Charities of Central Florida Inc, Sept. 26. (Credit: VALETA ORLANDO | FC).

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) — South Florida’s newest archbishop talked in depth Thursday about his faith, the future of the Catholic Church and his Harley Davidson.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski will lead 1.3 million South Florida Catholics after being ordained on June 1.

Wenski said his heart for Haiti will be a big part of his leadership. “Geography has made the US and Haiti neighbors, but we have to be more than neighbors, we have to be brothers and sisters,” Wenski said.

The archbishop said he marvels at Haitian resolve, not only rebounding from hurricanes but earthquakes as well. Wenski said showing faith can spring from tragedy.

Tragedy is not far from the mind of the archbishop. He is keenly aware of the child sex scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church. He said child molestation is an atrocity, and it is painful for both the victim and the church. “The church has addressed that, and one of the signs that it has addressed that is the safe environment programs that are in place,” he revealed. “Today, the church is the safest place for a child to be.”

Wenski was quick to point out that closing Catholic schools and parishes is not the result of the sex scandal payouts, which topped tens of millions of dollars. “The cost we have had to payout has been in great measure covered by insurance,” Wenski said.

Earlier in the week, Wenski lead a mass for South Florida lawyers and judges. Afterward, he addressed Catholic support for fighting gay marriage in the political arena.

South Florida is known for its gay population. Wenski said the church is not an enemy of gay issues, but he held firm on Catholic belief on the matter. “I don’t believe the church does show hostility to that community or to any other community.” Wenski went on to say, “Children are hardwired to be raised by a father and a mother who are married to each other in a permanent relationship.”

The archbishop also spoke about light moments while being interviewed, a quality that perhaps will help reach declining numbers of young people. Wenski even commented on “American Idol.” He said, “I don’t know if I’ve sat through sessions of ‘American Idol.’ I think I might have stopped on it for a few minutes while channel surfing, but I did not linger too long.”

The archbishop also spoke about his interest in motorcycles. “I used to have a Honda Shadow, and about a year ago I invested in a Harley Davidson street bike to take a motorcycle ride and clear the cobwebs of my mind.”

Cobwebs even in the mind of a man of God. He said, the matters of God are important in today’s complicated world.

With the newest numbers being 1.3 million Catholics, in South Florida, Wenski said, he’s going to need all the help and prayers he can get.



Evangelizing Jesus…

The subject around here this week was children, and especially today:

–On the phone with my mother on her birthday, I noted, “ I’m appalled at the low-level of Catholic faith formation…” Her reply, “Well, the parents don’t know anything either…”

–On the Internet I read the story of a young woman describing her Catholic upbringing, saying, “I had grown up surrounded by the faith of my parents — studied it in school, practiced it at home and at church, and accepted it at face value. I never questioned it — it wasn’t a faith that was my own…”

–This same young girl is now a teacher and youth minister at a prominent all girls Catholic High School who describes her faith today:

“I will be the first to admit, and sometimes quite vocally, that there are many teachings, practices, and attitudes within the Catholic tradition that I don’t agree with. There are times when I’m not just disappointed by this Church, but I’m angered and wounded, and find myself pondering the questions I’m so often asked by others: “Why do you stay?” or, “How can you teach this?”

And the circle perpetuates.

On the drive to my confirmation class this afternoon I realized I was tired. Exhausted, really… Thoughts on our need for true evangelization soon turned into realizations of my own ineffectiveness this year teaching the faith at home and religious ed. at church. There was a contradiction between the Joyful mysteries and my heart as I drove along praying my rosary.

Before class began I noticed a young Asian boy sitting across the table from me. His family is new to the parish, and I didn’t know much about him, In fact, I thought he was a new student, or visitor. I observed him as he talked with the DRE next to me. There was something special about him. The way he talked reminded me of one of my sons. “You seem to be very intelligent to me.” I said. He just looked at me. “What’s your name?” I asked. (I’ll call him Jesus here…) “Jesus”, I said, “how well do you know the faith?” “Faith?” He replied. There was some silence for a bit, and looking back up at me we launched into this conversation:

Jesus: “My mother is dead.”

Jesus: “My father shot my mother and killed her, and he’s in jail.

Me: “That must have really hurt your little heart Jesus, huh?”

Jesus: “Yea.”

Me: “I know how you feel, I lost my father when I was young. That hurt my heart too.”

Jesus: “My mother told me that I shouldn’t cry for her.”

Me: “Oh, no, Jesus, it’s okay to cry. You loved her right? It’s a good thing to cry.”

Jesus: “I did.”

Me: “Did your mother have faith?”

Jesus: “What?”

Me: “Did your mother believe in God?”

Jesus: “Oh yes, she told me that her spirit would be looking over me.”

Me: “Do you pray for your mother, Jesus?”

Me: “You know, that’s why it’s good to know your faith.” To know God exists.” “Before I had faith I didn’t believe, to me my father was just, well, gone, that was that, the end; I wasn’t aware that we have souls. That my father had a soul which was with God, and at the end of time God will reunite–as with each of us–our souls to our bodies.” “And we shall be like Jesus.” “You know Jesus rose from the dead, and His body is glorified.” “We shall be like that.”

Me: “But you can help your mother through your prayers, now.” “We don’t know the state of our parents souls, she may be in heaven already, or in purgatory, which is why it’s always good to pray for our parents.”

Jesus: “What’s purgatory?”

Me: “Jesus, it’s like a cleansing fire of God’s love.” God is a pure spirit, and He cleanses us before entering into heaven.”

Jesus: “I hurt my ankle playing basketball at school today!”

Me: “You like to play basketball, Jesus?” “Me too!” And I showed him a knot on my ankle from twisting it playing.

Jesus: “I played baseball too!”

Me: “You’re kidding me, right?” “I played baseball as a kid too.”

Me: “What team?”

Jesus: “The Astros.”

Me: “Astros, huh? I played on the Angels.”

Jesus: “Sometimes I get real angry.”

Me: “Really?”

Jesus: “Yea.” “Really angry.”

Me: “That’s when you need to pray hard Jesus.”

Me: “Hey, we should get together and play some basketball together.”

Jesus: “Can you shoot 3’s still?”

Me: “Yea, I still can.” “Well… at least for the time being.”

These are the children we’ve heard about…


Definitive Paper Shows Homosexuality at Root of Sex Abuse Crisis

By John-Henry Westen

April 19, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A must-read paper produced by Human Life International Research Director Brian Clowes has closed the book on the question of whether homosexuality in the priesthood is a root cause of the clerical sexual abuse crisis.  Citing numerous research studies, Clowes demonstrates that homosexuality is strongly linked to sexual abuse of minors, and that celibacy is definitely not a cause of pedophilia.

Clowes cites studies, including:

– Homosexual Alfred Kinsey, the USA’s preeminent sexual researcher, found in 1948 that 37 percent of all male homosexuals admitted to having sex with children under 17 years old.

– A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that “The best epidemiological evidence indicates that only 2.4% of men attracted to adults prefer men.  In contrast, around 25-40% of men attracted to children prefer boys.  Thus, the rate of homosexual attraction is 6-20 times higher among pedophiles.”

– A study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that, “Pedophilia appears to have a greater than chance association with two other statistically infrequent phenomena.  The first of these is homosexuality … Recent surveys estimate the prevalence of homosexuality, among men attracted to adults, in the neighborhood of 2%.  In contrast, the prevalence of homosexuality among pedophiles may be as high as 30-40%.”

– A study in the Journal of Sex Research noted that “… the proportion of sex offenders against male children among homosexual men is substantially larger than the proportion of sex offenders against female children among heterosexual men … the development of pedophilia is more closely linked with homosexuality than with heterosexuality.”

– A study of 229 convicted child molesters published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that “eighty-six percent of [sexual] offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”

For the references for these findings please see Clowes full paper here.

SOURCE: LifeSiteNews.com


Disturbing Report: Fr. Amorth, World’s Best Known Exorcist , Says Vatican Clergy Among Satanists


“…either they never read the Gospel or they don’t believe it! ” Father Gabriele Amorth


I discovered this troubling report on the excellent pro-life blog BIG BLUE WAVE:

Here is a review of Paolo Rodari on his blog:
When an exorcist discovers he has much to do at Vatican
February 25, 2010
– There are Satanists in the Vatican?
“Yes, even in the Vatican there are members of satanic cults.”
– Who is involved? Is it simple priests or laity?
“There are priests, bishops and even cardinals.”
– Forgive me, Father Gabriel, but how do you know?
“I know people who have been observing it, because they had the opportunity to observe it directly. And this is something that has been ‘confessed’ several times by the devil Even under obedience in the exorcisms.
– The Pope is informed of this?
“Of course, he was informed” But he does what he can. It is something terrifying. Keep in mind also that Benedict XVI is a German pope, he comes from a nation resolutely closed to these things. In Germany, in fact, there are almost no exorcists, and yet the Pope believes [in them]: I had the opportunity to speak with him three times before, when He was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He believes, and how! And he spoke explicitly in public several times [about this]. He welcomed our association of exorcists (in October 2005, BEM); [at the time] he also delivered a fine speech, encouraging us and praising our apostolate. And let us not forget that the devil and exorcism, John Paul II also spoke a lot about it. ”
– While it’s true what Paul VI said that the smoke of Satan entered the Church?
“It’s true, unfortunately, because in the Church as there are followers of satanic cults. The details of the” smoke of Satan “, Paul VI spoke June 29, 1972. Then, as this sentence created a huge scandal, November 15, 1972, he devoted an entire speech to the devil, on Wednesday, with some very strong words. Of course, it broke the ice, lifting a veil of silence and censorship that has lasted too long but it had no practical consequences. It took someone like me– who was a nobody– to spread the alarm in order to get results.
Father Gabriele Amorth is now one of the most renown international exorcists. He exercises his ministry in the city of Rome. In his memoirs, collected by Marco Tosatti in “Father Amorth. Memoirs of an exorcist. My life in the fight against Satan” (Piemme) the complaint that he wants the Church to hear above all is [about]the church and its bishops:
“We have many priests and many bishops who, unfortunately, do not believe in Satan,” he said. And again: “There are whole countries that have no exorcists: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal … Many bishops do not believe in the devil, and even manage to say in public that Hell does not exist, the devil does not exist. And yet, in the Gospel, Jesus speaks extensively about, so we would almost say, either they never read the Gospel or they don’ believe it! “.

READ THE REST ON: BIG BLUE WAVE: Fr. Amorth, World’s Best Known Exorcist , Says Vatican Clergy Among Satanists


Pope John Paul II: Letter For Holy Thursday 2001


Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

            1. On the day when the Lord Jesus gave to the Church the gift of the Eucharist, and with it instituted our priesthood, I cannot but address to you — as is now traditional — a word of friendship and, I might say, of intimacy, wishing to join you in thanksgiving and praise.

            Lauda Sion, Salvatorem, lauda ducem et pastorem, in hymnis et canticis! Great indeed is the mystery of which we have been made ministers. A mystery of love without limit, for “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1); a mystery of unity, which from the source of Trinitarian life is poured out upon us in order to make us “one” in the gift of the Spirit (cf. Jn 17); a mystery of divine diakonia which prompts the Word made flesh to wash the feet of his creation, thus showing that service is the high road in all genuine relationships between people: “You also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:15).

Of this great mystery we have been made, in a special way, witnesses and ministers.

            2. This is the first Holy Thursday after the Great Jubilee. What we have experienced together with our communities, in that special celebration of mercy, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus, now becomes the incentive to continue the journey. Duc in altum! The Lord invites us to put out into the deep, with trust in his word. Let us learn from the Jubilee experience and persevere in the task of bearing witness to the Gospel with the enthusiasm that contemplating the face of Christ engenders in us!

            As I in fact stressed in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, we must start out from Christ, in order to be open, in him, with the “ineffable” groanings of the Spirit (cf. Rom 8:26), to the embrace of the Father: “Abba! Father!” (Gal 4:6). Christ must be our point of departure in rediscovering the source and the profound rationale of our brotherhood: “As I have loved you, you also must love one another” (Jn 13:34).

            3. Today I wish to express to each of you my gratitude for all that you did during the Jubilee Year to ensure that the people entrusted to your care might experience more intensely the saving presence of the Risen Lord. At this time, I am also thinking of the work you do every day, work that is often hidden and, without making headlines, causes the Kingdom of God to advance in people’s minds and hearts. I want you to know of my admiration for this ministry, discreet, tenacious and creative, even if it is sometimes watered by those tears of the soul which only God sees and “stores in his bottle” (cf. Ps 56:8). Your ministry is all the more admirable when it is tested by the resistance of a widely secularized environment, which subjects priestly activity to the temptations of fatigue and discouragement. You well know that such daily commitment is precious in the eyes of God.

            At the same time, I wish to echo the voice of Christ who continuously calls us to deepen our relationship with him. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20). Chosen to proclaim Christ, we are first of all invited to live in intimacy with him: we cannot give to others what we ourselves do not have! There is a thirst for Christ which, despite many appearances to the contrary, emerges even in contemporary society; it is present among all the inconsistencies of new forms of spirituality; it can be seen even where, on important ethical issues, the Church’s witness becomes a sign of contradiction. This thirst for Christ — whether conscious or not — cannot be quenched with empty words. Only authentic witnesses can communicate in a credible way the word that saves.

            4. In my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte I said that the true legacy of the Great Jubilee is the experience of a more intense encounter with Christ. From among the many aspects of this encounter, today I would like to choose for this reflection the theme of sacramental reconciliation: this too was a central feature of the Jubilee Year, also because it is closely connected with the gift of the Jubilee indulgence.

            Here in Rome, and I am sure that you too had similar experiences in your local Churches, one of the most visible manifestations of the Jubilee was certainly the exceptional numbers of people receiving the Sacrament of mercy. Even non-religious observers were impressed by this. The confessionals in Saint Peter’s and in the other Basilicas were “stormed”, as it were, by pilgrims, who often had to wait in long queues, patiently waiting their turn. The interest shown by young people in this Sacrament during the splendid week of their Jubilee was particularly significant.

            5. As you well know, in recent decades this Sacrament has passed through a certain crisis, for a number of reasons. Precisely in order to tackle this crisis, in 1984 a Synod was held, the conclusions of which were presented in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia.

            It would be naive to think that the mere intensifying of the practice of the Sacrament of forgiveness during the Jubilee Year is proof of a definitive turnabout. It was nevertheless an encouraging sign. It impels us to recognize that the profound needs of the human spirit, to which God’s saving plan responds, cannot be cancelled out by temporary crises. We should accept this Jubilee indication as a sign from on high, and make it a reason for renewed boldness in re-proposing the meaning and practice of this Sacrament.

            6. But it is not so much on pastoral problems that I wish to dwell. Holy Thursday, the special day of our vocation, calls us to reflect above all on “who we are”, and in particular on our journey to holiness. It is from this source too that our apostolic zeal will flow.

            So, as we gaze upon Christ at the Last Supper, as he becomes for us the “bread that is broken”, as he stoops down in humble service at the feet of the Apostles, how can we not experience, together with Peter, the same feeling of unworthiness in the face of the greatness of the gift received? “You shall never wash my feet” (Jn 13:8). Peter was wrong to reject Christ’s gesture. But he was right to feel unworthy of it. It is important, on this day of love par excellence, that we should feel the grace of the priesthood as a super-abundance of mercy.

Mercy is the absolutely free initiative by which God has chosen us: “You did not choose me but I chose you” (Jn 15:16).

Mercy is his deigning to call us to act as his representatives, though he knows that we are sinners.

Mercy is the forgiveness which he never refuses us, as he did not refuse it to Peter after his betrayal. The avowal that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Lk 15:7) also holds true for us.

            7. Let us then rediscover our vocation as a “mystery of mercy”. In the Gospel we find that Peter receives his special ministry with precisely this spiritual attitude. His experience is indicative for all those who have received the apostolic task in the different grades of the Sacrament of Orders.

            Our thoughts turn to the scene of the miraculous catch of fish as described in the Gospel of Luke (5:1-11). Jesus asks Peter for an act of trust in his word, inviting him to put out into the deep for a catch. A disconcerting request, humanly speaking: after a sleepless and exhausting night spent casting the nets with no result, how could one believe him? But trying again, “at Jesus’ word”, changes everything. The fish arrive in such quantities as to tear the nets. The Word reveals his power. The result is wonder, but also fear and trembling, as when we are unexpectedly struck by an intense beam of light which lays bare all our personal limits. Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5:8). But scarcely has he uttered his admission when the Master’s mercy becomes for him the beginning of new life: “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men” (Lk 5:10). The “sinner” becomes a minister of mercy. From a fisher of fish to a “fisher of men”!

            8. Dear priests, this is a great mystery: Christ was not afraid to choose his ministers from among sinners. Is not this our own experience? It is Peter once again who will become more aware of this in his touching dialogue with Jesus after the Resurrection. Before entrusting him with the mandate to care for the flock, the Master asks the embarrassing question: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (Jn 21:15). The one being questioned is the very man who a few days earlier had denied him three times. It is easy to understand the humble tone of his reply: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17). And it is on the basis of this love, which knows all too well its own frailty, a love professed with both trust and hesitation, that Peter receives the commission: “Feed my lambs”, “feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15, 16, 17). It will be on the basis of this love, strengthened by the fire of Pentecost, that Peter will be able to accomplish the ministry entrusted to him.

            9. And is it not within an experience of mercy that Paul’s vocation too is born? No one experienced the gratuitousness of Christ’s choice as vividly as he did. His past as a ferocious persecutor of the Church seared itself deep into his soul: “I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God” (1 Cor 15:9). Yet, far from stifling his enthusiasm, this memory made it soar. The more he was embraced by mercy, the more Paul felt the need to bear witness to it and to let it shine forth in his life. The “voice” which speaks to him on the road to Damascus leads him to the heart of the Gospel, and enables him to discover the Gospel as the merciful love of the Father who in Christ is reconciling the world to himself. On this basis, Paul will also understand apostolic service as the ministry of reconciliation: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting men’s trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18-19).

            10. Dear priests, the witness of Peter and Paul contains valuable pointers for us. Their lives invite us to live the gift of the ministry with a sense of endless thanksgiving: nothing is due to our merits, all is grace! The experience of the two Apostles prompts us to abandon ourselves to the mercy of God, to give over to him in sincere repentance our frailties, and with his grace to set out again on our journey to holiness. In Novo Millennio Ineunte I indicated the commitment to holiness as the first element of all wise pastoral “planning”. It is the basic task of all believers, so how much more must it be for us (cf. Nos. 30-31)!

            For this very reason it is important for us to rediscover the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a fundamental means of our sanctification. Approaching a brother priest in order to ask for the absolution that we so often give to the faithful enables us to live the great and consoling truth that, before being ministers, we are all members of the same people, a “saved” people. What Augustine said of his task as bishop is true also of the service of priests: “If I am anxious about being for you, I am consoled by being with you. For you I am a bishop, with you I am a Christian … In the first there is danger, in the second there is salvation” (Discourses, 340, 1). It is wonderful to be able to confess our sins, and to hear as a balm the word which floods us with mercy and sends us on our way again. Only those who have known the Father’s tender embrace, as the Gospel describes it in the parable of the Prodigal Son — “he embraced him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20) — only they can pass on to others the same warmth, when after receiving pardon themselves they administer it to others.

            11. On this holy day, therefore, let us ask Christ to help us to rediscover, for ourselves, the full beauty of this Sacrament. Did not Jesus himself help Peter to make this discovery? “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me” (Jn 13:8). Jesus of course was not referring directly to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but in some sense he was pointing to it, alluding to that process of purification which would begin with his redeeming Death, and to its sacramental application to individuals down the ages.

            Dear priests, let us make regular use of this Sacrament, that the Lord may constantly purify our hearts and make us less unworthy of the mysteries which we celebrate. Since we are called to show forth the face of the Good Shepherd, and therefore to have the heart of Christ himself, we more than others must make our own the Psalmist’s ardent cry: “A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps 51:12). The Sacrament of Reconciliation, essential for every Christian life, is especially a source of support, guidance and healing for the priestly life.

            12. The priest who fully experiences the joy of sacramental reconciliation will find it altogether normal to repeat to his brothers and sisters the words of Paul: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).

            The crisis of the Sacrament of Reconciliation which I mentioned earlier is due to many factors from the diminished sense of sin to an inadequate realization of the sacramental economy of God’s salvation. But perhaps we should also recognize that another factor sometimes working against the Sacrament has been a certain dwindling of our own enthusiasm and availability for the exercise of this delicate and demanding ministry.

            Conversely, now more than ever the People of God must be helped to rediscover the Sacrament. We need to declare with firmness and conviction that the Sacrament of Penance is the ordinary means of obtaining pardon and the remission of grave sins committed after Baptism. We ought to celebrate the Sacrament in the best possible way, according to the forms laid down by liturgical law, so that it may lose none of its character as the celebration of God’s mercy.

            13. A source of renewed confidence in the revival of this Sacrament is not only the fact that, despite many incongruities, a new and urgent need for spirituality is becoming widespread in society. There is also a deeply-felt need for interpersonal contact, which is increasingly experienced as a reaction to the anonymous mass society which often leaves people interiorly isolated, even when it involves them in a flurry of purely functional relationships. Obviously sacramental confession is not to be confused with a support system or with psychotherapy. But neither should we underestimate the fact that the Sacrament of Reconciliation, when correctly celebrated, also has a “humanizing” effect, which is in perfect harmony with its primary purpose of reconciling the individual with God and the Church.

            Here too, it is important that the minister of reconciliation should fulfil his role correctly. His ability to be welcoming, to be a good listener and to engage in dialogue, together with his ready accessibility, is essential if the ministry of reconciliation is to be seen in all its value. The faithful and uncompromising proclamation of the radical demands of God’s word must always be accompanied by great understanding and sensitivity, in imitation of Jesus’ own way of dealing with sinners.

            14. The liturgical form of the Sacrament also needs to be given due attention. The Sacrament forms part of the structure of communion which is the mark of the Church. Sin itself cannot be properly understood if it is viewed in a purely “private” way, forgetting that it inevitably affects the entire community and lowers the level of holiness within it. Moreover, the offer of forgiveness expresses a mystery of supernatural solidarity, since its sacramental significance rests on the profound union between Christ the Head and the members of his Body.

            It is extremely important to help people recover this “community” aspect of the Sacrament, also by means of community penance services which conclude with individual confession and absolution. This manner of celebration enables the faithful to appreciate better the two-fold dimension of reconciliation, and commits them more effectively to following the penitential path in all its revitalizing richness.

            15. Then there is also the fundamental problem of catechetical teaching about the moral conscience and about sin, so that people can have a clearer idea of the radical demands of the Gospel. Unfortunately, there exists a minimalist tendency which prevents the Sacrament from producing all the benefits that we might hope for. Many of the faithful have an idea of sin that is not based on the Gospel but on common convention, on what is socially “acceptable”. This makes them feel not particularly responsible for things that “everybody does”, and all the more so if these things are permitted by civil law.

            Evangelization in the third millennium must come to grips with the urgent need for a presentation of the Gospel message which is dynamic, complete and demanding. The Christian life to be aimed at cannot be reduced to a mediocre commitment to “goodness” as society defines it; it must be a true quest for holiness. We need to re-read with fresh enthusiasm the fifth chapter of Lumen Gentium, which deals with the universal call to holiness. Being a Christian means to receive a “gift” of sanctifying grace which cannot fail to become a “commitment” to respond personally to that gift in everyday life. It is precisely for this reason that I have sought over the years to foster a wider recognition of holiness, in all the contexts where it has appeared, so that Christians can have many different models of holiness, and all can be reminded that they are personally called to this goal.

            16. Dear Brother Priests, let us go forward in the joy of our ministry, knowing that we have at our side the One who called us and does not abandon us. May the certainty of his presence sustain and console us.

            On Holy Thursday may we have an even more vivid sense of this presence, as we contemplate with deep emotion the hour when Jesus, in the Upper Room, gave himself to us under the signs of bread and wine, sacramentally anticipating the sacrifice of the Cross. Last year I wrote to you from the Upper Room itself, during my visit to the Holy Land. How can I forget that touching moment? I re-live it today, not without sorrow for the tragic situation which persists in the land of Christ.

            Our spiritual meeting-place on Holy Thursday is still there, in the Upper Room, as we celebrate in union with the Bishops in the cathedrals of the whole world the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ and gratefully recall the origins of our Priesthood.

In the joy of the immense gift which we have all received, I embrace you all and give you my blessing.

From the Vatican, on 25 March, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, in the year 2001, the twenty-third of my Pontificate.