Pope’s letter to priests

Pope’s letter to priests

The Vatican published the Holy Father’s annual letter to priests today. It contains the usual things: reflections on his own priesthood, a call to encourage vocations by personal holiness and witness, and so on.

One strange note: The Pope calls altar servers a “garden of priestly vocations” and encourages priests to use that service as a natural training ground for the priesthood. Unfortunately, by the Pope’s own order in 1994, most altar servers, at least in the US, are not eligible for the priesthood. Most parishes that I’ve been in lately have more girls serving at the altar than boys. In fact, it seems the Pope is making a good argument for reversing his own order, something which I don’t expect would happen. Could you imagine the outcry?

Another darker note: calling attention to priests forming relationships with altar servers after the events of the last two years is probably not a good idea. I know, we can’t live in fear of the conclusions people will draw, but still some sensitivity to the issue may have been called for.

  • Vocations to the religious life would have to come from people in religious life giving witness to their particular service, be it teaching, care for the poor, care for the sick and dying, etc.

    There’s no aspect of Eucharistic liturgy that is particular to religious brothers and sisters.  Eucharistic liturgy is celebrated by a priest or bishop, assisted by deacons and lay persons.

  • Bubbles,

    Yes and the married life and committed single life are vocations also, but the vocations to which the Holy Father is referring are priestly vocations and he’s saying that service at the altar should be a means to foster them. Unfortunately if none of the altar servers can actually be ordained, that becomes a problem.