Pope Benedict XVI has officially declared June 19, 2009-June 19, 2010 the "Year for Priests." In his declaration of the "Year for Priests," the Pope mentions the ecclesial, communal, hierarchical, and doctrinal dimensions that come with being a priest. He also emphasized that without priests, "there would be no Eucharist, no mission" and no Church. Pope Benedict XVI goes on to say:
"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."
With a growing Catholic immigrant population in the United States, and a shrinking number of priests, there is a need now more than ever for foreign born priests to spread the word of God in the states. While the lay community does amazing things for the Church, it is through ordained priests that the tradition and doctrine of the Church lives on.
The Pope explains that priests are ecclesial "because no-one announces or brings themselves,...but brings Another, God Himself, to the world." By coming to the U.S., foreign-born priests not only bring with them their passion and love for God, but God Himself to the many growing immigrant populations throughout the country.
The role of priests is communal "because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility." Foreign-born priests are in unity and communion with their countries of origin, immigrant populations of the United States, and the Catholic Church. In addition, by seeing foreign-born priests in leadership positions in the Church, Americans can see the changing face of Catholicism and understand that we are all part of one body.
Foreign-born priests will continue to play a vital role in the faith of millions of Catholics in the United States, and CLINIC makes sure people's faith journeys can continue, through priests that speak their language, understand their culture, and that can help them see the living Christ.
Here is a link to a video from Rome Reports on the "Year for Priests."
Mark Franken is executive director at CLINIC.