The Year of the Priest
On June 19, 2009 the Church begins the jubilee Year of the Priest, as solemnly declared by Pope Benedict XVI. Envisioned as an opportunity to encourage spiritual perfection in priests, this jubilee year starts on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the day for the sanctification of all priests.
St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, will be declared the patron saint of all priests worldwide – he is currently the patron saint for parish priests. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the saint's death. His relics will be present at the opening of the Year of the Priest in Rome.
The Holy Father emphasized that priestly formation must maintain “communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity,” and said that “a correct reading of the text of Vatican Council II interpreted in the light of the church's doctrinal heritage” must be passed down. He pointed out that the mission of a priest is ecclesial, communal, hierarchical, and doctrinal.
Pope Benedict also said that priests must be "present, identifiable, and recognizable – for their judgment of faith, their personal virtues, and their attire – in the fields of culture and charity which have always been at the heart of the church's mission."
In declaring this jubilee year, Pope Benedict explained the importance of priests – without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, and no Church. “It is necessary, then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organizations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry.”
The Year of the Priest will end on June 19, 2010, during a “World Meeting of Priests” in St. Peter's Square.