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Sacramental ministry must come first for priests, Pope tells audience

Catholic World News - May 05, 2010

Priests should make the administration of the sacraments their top pastoral priority, Pope Benedict XVI told his public audience on Wednesday, May 5.

Continuing his weekly talks on the priesthood as the Year for Priests draws toward a close, the Pope said that a special emphasis on sacramental ministry is necessary because "various schools of thought" have neglected the sacraments, while emphasizing the duty of priests as preachers and teachers.

The proclamation of the Gospel is important, the Pope said, but the primary purpose of the priestly ministry is to deliver the sacraments, providing the faithful with the means of sanctification.

"Sanctifying a person means putting that person in contact with God," the Pontiff reminded his audience. The priesthood was instituted for sacramental ministry, and no other function is equally important. Moreover, the Pope observed, "missionary announcement and worship are never separate," and devotion to the sacraments is in itself a powerful form of evangelization.

The Pope urged all priests to imitate the Curé of Ars and to "be willing, generous, and attentive in giving the faithful the treasures of grace that God has placed in our hands, treasures of which we are not masters but custodians and administrators."

In a message addressed directly to priests, the Pope called upon priests to "practice liturgy and worship with joy and love," and to "return to the confessional."

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