Benedict tells priests to serve Christ and be His voice

Winding up his popular homecoming German tour in the town of Freising where he was first ordained, Pope Benedict called upon priests and deacons to "live" and "spread" the Word but some Church groups are calling upon the Pope to do more for "realistic reform" of the Church.

Speaking at the Cathedral of Freising, Pope Benedict recalled "those years when my journey to the priesthood and the exercise of my ministry were linked to this place", AsiaNews reports.

"A priest's life and the real nature of his vocation and ministry are contained in the world view revealed to us by Jesus," the Pope said.

Citing St Augustine, Pope Benedict noted the ancient Bishop of Hippo's definition of a priest as a servant of Christ.

He says the term "servant" implies a relationship with Christ: "to be a servant is to be in relation to a master."

But he emphasises that this "takes nothing away from his relation to the community, indeed it provides the foundation for it: precisely as 'Christ's servant' he is 'in his name, servant of his servants'".

"The other definition of the ordained minister to which Augustine frequently returns is 'vox Christi'," Pope Benedict continued, likening the role of a priest to that of John the Baptist, who defined himself "as a simple 'voice' sent to proclaim Christ who is the 'Word'".

"It is not they who are at the centre, but Christ, whose 'voice' they must be with their whole existence", Pope Benedict concluded.

However, not everyone was convinced by the Pope's words during his visit to Germany.

At the conclusion of the Pope's visit, the international group We are Church said that they are still asking: "When will love and reason, which the Pope has mentioned so often during his visit, finally make themselves felt in the Catholic Church?"

"We absolutely welcome the Pope's statement, that Christianity should be described as a 'positive option' and not by prohibitions," the group said in a statement.

"Therefore it is most regrettable that the Pope has not shown any signals for realistic reforms in the Roman Catholic Church, regarding for instance women and priests.

"Indeed he has avoided to put ideas and suggestions of reforms in concrete shapes as well as to be really open for dialogue with laymen," the group, which is committed to the "renewal" of the Church, said in the statement.

Pope: priest as "servant" and "voice" of Jesus to bring God back "to the centre" (Asia News, 14/9/06)
We are the Church (Media Release, 14/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Vatican
We are Church

Religious violence contrary to God's nature, Pope says (CathNews, 14/9/06)
No chance of world without reason, says Benedict (CathNews, 13/9/06)
Benedict says learn Gospel from Africa and Asia (CathNews, 11/9/06)
Benedict heads home to Bavaria, Germany (CathNews, 8/9/06)

15 Sep 2006