MANILA, March 4, 2011â€”Pope Benedict urged the Philippine bishops to put a premium in the ongoing formation of priests and to guide them to spiritual maturity.
The bishops have a paternal duty towards their clergy and should guide them with sincere concern, said the pope.
The Holy Father made the statement on March 3, during the â€œad limina visitâ€ of Mindanao bishops and the Archbishop of Lipa.
He lauded the continuing formation programs many dioceses have for the young clergy to help them adjust to an independent life outside the seminary.
â€œAlong these lines, it is also helpful for them to be assigned mentors from among those older priests who have proven themselves to be faithful servants of the Lord,â€ he said.
â€œThese men can guide their younger confrÃ¨res along the path toward a mature and well-balanced way of priestly living,â€ the pope added.
Saying that â€œpriests of all agesâ€ need continuous care in all aspects of their priestly life, the Holy Father also encouraged that â€œregular days of recollection, yearly retreats and convocations, as well as programs for continuing education and assistance for priests who may be facing difficultiesâ€, be promoted.
He also urged the bishops to look after the well-being of their priests assigned in isolated areas.
The pontiff noted how the Second National Congress for the Clergy held during the Year for Priests â€œbecame an occasion for renewal and fraternal supportâ€ among the clergy.
He encouraged the prelates to benefit from the annual celebration of Holy Thursday, â€œduring which the Church commemorates the priesthood in a special way.â€
â€œRemind your priests of their commitment to celibacy, obedience, and an ever greater dedication to pastoral service,â€ the pope told the bishops.
â€œIn living out their promises, these men will become true spiritual fathers with a personal and psychological maturity that will grow to mirror the paternity of God,â€ he added. (CBCPNews)