As you can easily imagine, I would have been extremely happy to be with you on this international retreat for priests on the theme: "The joy of priesthood: consecrated for the salvation of the world". A large number of you are taking part and you have the benefit of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn‘s teaching. I greet him cordially together with the other preachers and Bishop Guy-Marie Bagnard of Belley-Ars. I must be content with addressing this recorded message to you, but please believe that through these words I am speaking to each one of you in the most personal way possible because, as St Paul says: "I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace" (Phil 1: 7).
St John Mary Vianney emphasized the indispensable role of the priest when he said: "A good pastor, a pastor according to the heart of God, is the greatest treasure that the good Lord can give to a parish and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy" (Le Curé d‘Ars, Pensées, presented by Abbé Bernard Nodet, Desclée de Brouwer, Foi Vivante, 2000, p. 101). In this Year for Priests we are all called to explore and to rediscover the greatness of the sacrament which has configured us for ever to Christ the High Priest and has "consecrated" us all "in truth" (Jn 17: 19).