Category Archives: Catholic priesthood

Pope reminds the Pontifical North American College (Rome) to remain faithful to its founding principals

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As part of the 150th anniversary celebration of the Pontifical North American College, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a gathering of cardinals, bishops, priests, students and friends of the College on January 9, 2010. The PNAC was founded by Blessed Pius IX.

I am pleased to welcome the alumni of the Pontifical North
American College, together with the Rector, faculty and students of the
seminary on the Janiculum hill, and the student priests of the Casa Santa Maria
dell’Umiltà. Our meeting comes at the conclusion of the celebrations marking
the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the College’s establishment by my
predecessor, Blessed Pius IX. On this happy occasion I willingly join you in
thanking the Lord for the many ways in which the College has remained faithful
to its founding vision by training generations of worthy preachers of the
Gospel and ministers of the sacraments, devoted to the Successor of Peter and
committed to the building up of the Church in the United States of America.

is appropriate, in this Year for Priests, that you have returned to the College
and this Eternal City in order to give thanks for the academic and spiritual
formation which has nourished your priestly ministry over the years. The
present Reunion is an opportunity not only to remember with gratitude the time
of your studies, but also to reaffirm your filial affection for the Church of
Rome, to recall the apostolic labors of the countless alumni who have gone
before you, and to recommit yourselves to the high ideals of holiness, fidelity
and pastoral zeal which you embraced on the day of your ordination
. It is
likewise an occasion to renew your love for the College and your appreciation
of its distinctive mission to the Church in your country.

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During my Pastoral
Visit to the United States, I expressed my conviction that the Church in
is called to cultivate “an intellectual ‘culture’ which is
genuinely Catholic, confident in the profound harmony of faith and reason, and
prepared to bring the richness of faith’s vision to bear on the pressing issues
which affect the future of American society”
(Homily at Nationals Stadium,
Washington, 17 April 2008). As Blessed Pius IX rightly foresaw, the Pontifical
North American College in Rome is uniquely prepared to help meet this perennial
challenge. In the century and a half since its foundation, the College has
offered its students an exceptional experience of the universality of the
Church, the breadth of her intellectual and spiritual tradition, and the
urgency of her mandate to bring Christ’s saving truth to the men and women of
every time and place
. I am confident that, by emphasizing these hallmarks of a
Roman education in every aspect of its program of formation, the College will
continue to produce wise and generous pastors capable of transmitting the
Catholic faith in its integrity, bringing Christ’s infinite mercy to the weak
and the lost, and enabling America’s Catholics to be a leaven of the Gospel in
the social, political and cultural life of their nation.

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Dear brothers, I pray
that in these days you will be renewed in the gift of the Holy Spirit which you
received on the day of your ordination. In the College chapel, dedicated to the
Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady is
portrayed in the company of four outstanding models and patrons of priestly
life and ministry: Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Pius X, Saint John Mary
Vianney and Saint Vincent de Paul
. During this Year for Priests, may these
great saints continue to watch over the students who daily pray in their midst;
may they guide and sustain your own ministry, and intercede for the priests of
the United States. With cordial good wishes for the spiritual fruitfulness of
the coming days, and with great affection in the Lord, I impart to you my
Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to all the alumni and friends of
the Pontifical North American College.

A priest’s obedience = remaining in truth, says Archbishop Piacenza

Obedience is part of everyone’s human experience. Right now I can’t think of anyone on the planet who is not called/bound to some type of obedience. Can you? In the Catholic priesthood the man being ordained a priest makes a promise of respect and obedience to the bishop (if the man is going to be a diocesan priest), for life. How counter-cultural that is! In a regular letter to those interested, the secretary at the Congregation for Clergy has been writing periodic letters exploring various themes in the priesthood because we are in the “Year for Priests.” Today’s reflection is on priestly obedience.

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Even if they are not bound by a Solemn Vow of
obedience, ordinands profess a “promise” of “filial respect and obedience” to
their own Ordinary and his Successors. If the theological standing of a Vow and
a promise is different, the total and definitive moral obligation is identical,
and likewise identical is the offering of one’s will to the will of Another: to
the Divine will, mediated through the Church

In a time such as ours, marked as
it is by relativism and democraticism, by various forms of autonomous
individualism and libertinism, such a promise of obedience appears ever more
incomprehensible to the prevailing mindset. It is not rare for it to be
conceived as a diminution of dignity and human freedom, as a perseverance in obsolete
forms, typical of a society incapable of authentic emancipation.

We who live
authentic obedience know well that this is not the case. Obedience in the
Church is never contrary to the dignity and respect of the person, nor must it
ever be understood as an abandonment of responsibility or as a surrender
. The
Rite utilizes a fundamental adjective for the right understanding of such a
promise; it defines obedience only after mentioning “respect”, and this with
the adjective “filial”. Now the term “son”, in every language, is a relative
name, which implies, specifically, the relationship of a father and a son. It
is in this context that the obedience we have promised must be understood. It
is a context in which the father is called to truly be a father, and the son to
recognize his own sonship and the beauty of the fatherhood that has been given
to him. As happens in the law of nature, no one chooses his own father, nor
does one choose one’s own sons
. Therefore, we are all called, fathers and sons,
to have a supernatural regard for one another, one of great reciprocal clemency
and respect, that is to say the capacity to look at the other keeping always in
mind the good Teacher who has brought him into being, and who always,
ultimately, moulds him. Respect
is, by definition, simply this: to look at someone while keeping Another in

It is only in the context of “filial respect” that an authentic obedience
is possible, one which is not only formal, a mere execution of orders, but one
which is ardent, complete, attentive, which can really bring forth the fruits
of conversion and of “new life” in him who lives it.

The promise is to the
Ordinary at the time of ordination and to his “Successors”, since the Church
always draws back from an excessive personalism
: She has at heart the person,
but not the subjectivism that detracts from the power and the beauty, both
historical and theological, which characterize the Institution of obedience
The Spirit resides also in the Institution, since it is of divine origin. The
Institution is charismatic, of its very nature, and thus to be freely bound by
it in time (the Successors) means to “remain in the truth”, to persevere in
Him, present and operative in his living body, the Church, in the beauty of the
continuity of time, of ages, which joins us enduringly to Christ and to his

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza
Secretary, Congregation for Clergy
Vatican City

Fr Benedict Groeschel celebrates 50 years of priesthood

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This year is Father Benedict Groeschel’s golden jubilee as a priest. That’s right! He’s 50 years a Catholic priest. Many would know him as a TV personality on EWTN; others know him as the instigator of the Friars of the Renewal, to many, he’s a friend and a great priest. Friends of his put together a beautiful, brief video of Father Benedict. Watch it, the link’s below.
Pray for priests. Pray for Father Benedict. Pray for the Friars of the Renewal.
A video honoring him can be seen here.

2 bishops reviewed: Cardinal O’Malley & Archbishop Burke get the once-over in Time Magazine

Not sure there is much of a story here, but Amy Sullivan of Time magazine tries to make some kind of evaluation of style of two churchmen, Cardinal Sean O’Malley (of Boston) and Archbishop Raymond Burke (of the Holy See & formerly of St Louis). Judge for yourself

What is a priest’s identity?

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza looks briefly at this question and explores some key points of what a priest’s identity is. Watch the video clip.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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