Below is an extract of a homily given by Franciscan Cardinal Claudio Hummer to new bishops at a gathering in Rome on 21 September 2009. The stage is set…

Our priests need to be loved and supported in their
vocation and mission, above all by their own Bishop and by their community.
They wish to be recognised for that which they are and that which they do. They
also need to be assisted and guided to renew in their hearts the true identity
of the priesthood and the true meaning of celibacy. In this context, the
renewal and reinvigoration of their priestly spirituality will be decisive,
which has as its foundation in being true and unconditioned disciples of Jesus
Christ, who has configured them to Himself, Head and Shepherd of the Church.
For this discipleship, so determining of their lives, it will be of great help
for priests to listen and to pray aloud the Word of God, the daily celebration
of the Eucharist, the frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession, the
recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, frequent visits to the Most Blessed
Sacrament, the recitation of the Holy Rosary and other means of spiritual
enrichment and of personal encounter and intimacy with Jesus Christ. Also of
great importance are the annual Spiritual Exercises and ongoing formation

it is necessary to awaken the missionary consciousness of priests. The Church
knows there is a missionary urgency being experienced throughout the world, not
only ad gentes, but also within the very flock of the Church already
established for centuries in the Christian world. It is necessary to promote a
true missionary urge in our Dioceses and in our parishes. All our countries
have become a land of mission, in the strict sense. A new fire needs to be lit
in our priests and in us ourselves, a new passion to make us arise and go to
meet people where they live and work, to bring to them anew the Kerygma, the
first proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen, and of
his Kingdom, to lead them to a personal and then a communitarian encounter with
the Lord
. Our beloved Pope, Benedict XVI, referring to the situation in the lands
of age-old Christian tradition, has said, “We should give serious thought as to
how to achieve a true evangelization in this day and age […] It is not enough
for us to strive to preserve the existing flock” (Discourse to the German
Bishops, 21st August 2005), but we need a true mission. It is not enough merely
to welcome those who come to us, in the parish or in the parish house. There is
an urgent necessity to arise and go in search above all of the many baptised
who are distanced from participation in the life of our communities, and then
to seek also those who know little or nothing of Jesus Christ. The mission has
always renewed the Church. The same will also be true for priests when they go
into the mission. This, then, is a whole programme to develop during this Year
for Priests.


Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, OFM
Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo
Prefect of
the Congregation for the Clergy