Around 1,000 priests from 60 countries gathered in Rome for a five-day conference (6-10 February) on clerical formation, sponsored by the Dicasteries for the Clergy, Evangelization and Eastern Churches.
Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy, opened the conference by explaining the reason behind it. Many priests today, he noted, are “tired and discouraged, caught off guard by the challenges of today’s society and the burdens they carry”. Therefore, he continued, “the importance of providing priests with the necessary support and accompaniment, and thus the need for ongoing formation, has increasingly come to the forefront”.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, stressed that priests must not think that their formation ends once they have been ordained. Rather, he said, it is precisely “because we are ordained to the service of God and the Church, that we need to be continuously formed”. Ordained ministers, he said, must learn “the cultural intelligence to appreciate one’s culture” but also to “admit the brokenness of one’s culture” and “affirm the good elements in other cultures”.
Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti, Prefect of the Dicastery for Eastern Churches, warmly welcomed participants from the Eastern tradition, and assured them of Pope Francis’ attentive concern for the challenging situation many of them are experiencing in places afflicted by war. The Cardinal noted that paradoxically, it is in suffering that God’s mercy can be felt.
At the end of the introductory session, conference participants gathered in Saint Peter’s Basilica for Holy Mass presided by Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.