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Friday, May 11, 2012


Vatican City, 10 May 2012 (VIS) - "I am very happy to receive you on this day on which you are commemorating fifty years at the current site of the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph, and on the liturgical memory of St. John of Avila, patron of the Spanish secular clergy whom I will soon declare a Doctor of the universal Church", said Benedict XVI to students, rectors superiors and religious of that Roman seminary whom he received in audience this morning.

"The formation of priests is always one of the Church's most important priorities", the Pope went on. "Having been sent to Rome to continue your priestly studies you must concentrate, not so much on your own individual good, as on serving the holy people of God, who need pastors who commit themselves to the service of sanctifying the faithful with ability and competence. ... Remember, however, that the priest renews his own life and draws strength for his ministry through contemplating the Divine Word, and through intense dialogue with the Lord. He is aware that he cannot bring his brothers and sisters to Christ, nor see Him in the poor and the sick, unless he first discovers Him in fervent and constant prayer. ... The path of priestly formation is also a school of missionary communion: with Peter's Successor, with your bishop and with your fellow priests, and always at the service of the particular and the universal Church".

"Dear priests, may the life and doctrine of the Holy Master St. John of Avila illuminate and support you during your stay at the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph. His profound knowledge of Holy Scripture, the Fathers, the Councils, liturgy and sound theology, accompanied by his faithful and filial love for the Church, made him a true renovator at a difficult time in ecclesiastical history". Pope Benedict went on to quote words pronounced by Paul VI when he canonised that Spanish saint in 1970. "His was a far-sighted and ardent spirit which, in addition to denouncing evils and suggesting canonical remedies, also cultivated a school of intense spirituality"

"The teaching of the Apostle of Andalucia focuses on the mystery of Christ, Priest and Good Shepherd, experienced in harmony with the Lord's own sentiments and in imitation of St. Paul. ... I invite you, then, to exercise your priestly ministry with the same apostolic zeal that characterised him, with the same austerity of life, and with the same filial affection as he had for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of priests", the Holy Father concluded.

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