Pope John Paul II
May 14, 1995
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. This morning I had the joy of ordaining 41 priests, called by the Lord to be faithful pastors of his people and ready to offer their service wherever he might wish. Theirs is <a service of truth>, because they are asked above all to be proclaimers of the Gospel; <a service of sanctification> to help their brothers and sisters, especially through the sacraments, to open themselves to God's grace; <a service of charity>, in which they must strive to make the Christian community and the whole of society grow in love, stooping in a special way to the lowliest and weakest.
The priesthood is a great mystery and a great gift of God. I would therefore like to thank God for this gift; I also thank the new priests for the generosity with which they have responded to the divine call. I thank their parents and families, who encouraged them and supported them on their way. I thank their teachers, who helped them to pursue the various aspects of their formation.
I thank their peers and congratulate all the young people of Rome for today's priestly ordination, because the newly ordained come from this generation. I congratulate the Church of Rome and I especially congratulate this young Church of Rome for having joined me particularly on Palm Sunday.
2. I would also like to invite the whole Christian community to <pray for the sanctification of priests>. I also remember the day of my priestly ordination. I again express my gratitude to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for this grace offered me almost 49 years ago.
Holiness is a vocation common to all believers. But since the priest must guide his brothers and sisters, he has an additional reason to be holy. The People of God and public opinion itself are not mistaken, then, in expecting from priests a witness of life that is deeply consistent, even to the point of heroism.
Nevertheless, we should not forget that holiness should be implored from God, since by its nature it is an arduous way in which priests, no less than other men, are marked by weakness.
It is therefore essential for <the Christian community to support them> with its prayer. This is why, in my Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday this year, I suggested that all the Dioceses of the world celebrate a "Day for the Sanctification of Priests", to call upon the Lord so that all his ministers will live in ever fuller conformity with the heart of the Good Shepherd.
3. I entrust these new priests and, with them, all the priests of the world to the Blessed Virgin, especially those who are suffering the most, who are the loneliest, the most sorely tried, so that sustained by her motherly tenderness, they may experience the full joy of their mission.
[Recitation of Regina Caeli]
In a few days' time an important meeting of heads of state will take place in Nigeria to seek a peaceful solution for Liberia.
My prayerful thought goes to the many victims of that tragic war and to all those who are still paying for it today with its sad and heavy consequences.
Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to pray to the Lord of Peace with me, that he may enlighten the minds and hearts of all those responsible. May the wish of those peoples, so sorely tried by long years of war, to return to normal living conditions and to work together for the country's well-being, be granted as soon as possible.
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