FORMATION OF PRIESTS IS A DELICATE MISSION

Vatican City, 6 June, 2009 - This morning the Pope received the rector, priests and seminarians of Rome's Pontifical French Seminary. The institution, having been run for 150 years by the Holy Ghost Fathers, is now to pass under the aegis of the Conference of Bishops of France.

Having given thanks to God "for the work accomplished by this institution, founded in 1853, where some 5,000 seminarians have been prepared for their future vocations", the Holy Father highlighted how "the task of forming priests is a delicate mission. ... Future priests require many aptitudes: human maturity, spiritual qualities, apostolic zeal and intellectual rigour", he said.

"Those whose duty it is to discern and form [seminarians] must remember that the hope they place in others is, first and foremost, a duty they themselves must shoulder".

Benedict XVI then went on to recall that the change of administration "coincides with the beginning of the Year for Priests", due to be inaugurated on 19 June. "This", he said, "is a grace for the new team of priest formators from the Conference of Bishops of France".

In closing his remarks, the Pope expressed the hope that "during the period they spend in Rome, the seminarians may familiarise themselves with the history of the Church, discovering the true dimensions of her catholicity and her living unity around Peter's Successor, and always maintaining love for the Church alive in their hearts".

-VIS

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