DIALOGUE OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI
St Peter's Square
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Holy Father, I am Don José Eduardo Oliveira y Silva and I come from America, namely Brazil. Most of us here are committed to the parish apostolate, and not to just one community. Sometimes we pastors are in charge of several parishes or else of particularly large communities. We try our best to meet the needs of a society that has changed much, it is no longer entirely Christian, and we come to realize that our "doing" is not enough. How should we proceed, your Holiness? What direction should we take?
First of all I would like to express my great joy because gathered here are priests from all parts of the world, in the joy of our vocation and in our willingness to serve with all our strength the Lord in our time. As regards to the question, I am well aware that today it is very difficult to be a parish priest, also and above all in the countries of ancient Christianity. Parishes have become more extensive pastoral units... and it is impossible to know everyone, it is impossible to do all the work we would expect of a parish priest. So really, we are wondering how to proceed, as you said. But I would first like to say: I know there are many parish priests in the world who really give all their strength for evangelization, for the Lord's presence and for his sacraments. And to these faithful parish priests who work with all the strength of their lives, with our being passionate for Christ, I want to say a big "thank you" at this moment. I said that it is not possible to do all we would like to do, that perhaps we should do, because our strength is limited and there are difficult situations in an increasingly diversified, more complicated society. I think that, above all, it is important that the faithful can see that the priest does not just perform a "job" with working hours, and then is free and lives only for himself, but that he is a passionate man of Christ who carries in himself the fire of Christ's love. If the faithful see that he is full of the joy of the Lord and understand also that he cannot do everything, they can accept limits and help the parish priest.