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Vatican cardinal analyzes challenges facing Church in the Caribbean

Catholic World News - December 03, 2013

In a meeting with the bishops of the Antilles and in homilies in Trinidad and Tobago and in Jamaica, the prefect for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples analyzed the challenges facing the Church in the region.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni said that “it is the first time that the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is visiting the region,” the Fides news agency reported. He identified the three major challenges as “a scarcity of priests and religious, falling numbers of Catholics engaged in the life of the Church, and a constant diminution of financial resources.”

“These difficulties are linked to the impact of secularization and hedonism, more prevalent in this part of the missionary world then in some others, partly because of the influence of the many North American and European tourists that have made the Caribbean a preferred destination for their holidays,” he told the bishops.

“The Church cannot live and grow without priests, who ensure that the Eucharist is celebrated and that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is provided to the faithful, not to mention the fact that they provide future candidates for episcopal office,” he continued. “Obviously much more must be done in the area of ongoing formation of priests and their accompaniment by their bishop, so that young people might encounter joyful, zealous and faithful priests. Because only such priests will attract the young to the service of Christ.”

During a priestly ordination in Jamaica, Cardinal Filoni preached that

a priest must be in the midst of the people, to be a shepherd “with the “odor of the sheep,” as Pope Francis loves to say. But it is also true that the sheep need to recognize in every priest the “aroma” of the Good Shepherd, in his pastoral zeal, personal integrity, poverty, obedience, and fidelity to the promise of chaste celibacy.

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