Vatican City, 24 June 2009

Birth of St. John the Baptist

N. 2009 1905



To All the Reverend Supreme Moderators

of Institutes of consecrated life, of Societies of apostolic life

and of clerical Associations



            The Year for Priests has just been launched and for this reason the Holy Father has addressed a Letter to all the priests of the world.  This Year has been proclaimed in order “to support…the striving of priests toward that spiritual perfection which is the guarantor of the efficacy of their ministry” and so that priests especially, as well as the entire people of God, may rediscover and reinvigorate the awareness of the ordained priesthood as an extraordinary and indispensable gift.

            The same Supreme Pontiff has indicated a motto for the Year: “Fidelity of Christ, fidelity of the priest” and has designated St. John Marie Vianney as its model and exemplar.

            All of the forgoing establishes a clear and unquestionable direction for the Year, the success of which depends on mobilizing the strengths of all the various ecclesiastical jurisdictions as well as fomenting the active participation of the people of God.

            This Congregation, by creating a specially designated website ( and by organizing  an International Meeting for priests at Rome on the last three days of the Year (June 9-11, 2010), intends to make resources  available for use in meditation, prayer, reflection and study both for individual use as well as to assist Ordinaries in programming Priest’s Meetings, retreats and Days of Recollection for Clergy.

            The various local branches of the different Institutes/Societies/Associations must take the lead in organizing initiatives based on the doctrine and spirituality found in the aforementioned Letter of the Holy Father : this Letter should be made widely known, studied and assimilated by priests in their own Institutes/Societies/Associations as well as by all those aspiring to the priesthood. It should likewise become a leaven for local vocations programmes and serve as an examination of conscience in evaluating the state of continuing education and pastoral style obtaining in the differing ecclesiastical jurisdictions.

            The Congregation previously sent to all the Conferences of Bishops and Supreme Moderators a booklet, printed in various languages and widely circulated, promoting Eucharistic Adoration and the exercise of spiritual motherhood for the sanctification of priests. It would be opportune, now more than ever, to set up in every diocese, as well as in each Institute/Society/Association at least one location for Perpetual Adoration with this theme in mind.

            As well as the foregoing initiatives the following are offered as examples of proposals which might be implemented in programming:

-         wide circulation, reception and serious study of the Letter of the Holy Father on the part of priests and seminarians (cfr. attachment);

-         annual spiritual exercises, periodic retreats and priest days organized with themes structured around the Holy Father’s Letter;

-         integration of the Letter of the Holy Father into the program of continuing education for the current Year for Priests, with particular reference to the various points which are treated in the letter;

-         in depth study, for seminarians as well, of the theme of sacred celibacy in its historical, theological, spiritual and pastoral dimensions (resources will be offered with regard to this theme as soon as possible on the website:;

-         in depth study of the Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests already published by this Congregation in 1994 (;

-         ensuring that regular columns on the topic of the ministerial priesthood appear in the internal publications of the Institute and in those publications promoted by it;

-         promotion of pilgrimages to places having particular significance;

-         participation of the greatest  possible number of priests, seminarians and those interested in the priesthood at the International Conference at Rome (June 9-11, 2009);

-         in depth study of priestly identity and the ongoing development of its specific spirituality;

-         highlighting and renewing that sense of missionary zeal proper to every priest (for which a Letter will be published during the Year);

-         devoting attention to priests in difficulty due to problems of health or of age, for their worthy upkeep and other particular situations.

            Taking meditation on the Letter of the Holy Father as the point of departure, it is certain that the Spirit will not be found lacking in indicating those ways and means most suitable for rending a providential assistance to the priesthood, for encouraging the many generous brothers who feel the weight of the “pondus diei, for correcting those who may have lost their way, and for strengthening the essential pastoral work of vocations.

            It would also be  helpful if you would kindly communicate to this Dicastery any news concerning the more significant programmes, projects, events and achievements, undertaken by the Institute/Society/Association so that this information can be shared as widely as possible, so that others might benefit from the knowledge in formulating their own programmes.

            In the certainty that this initiative promoted by the Holy Father will receive a gracious welcome, please allow me to extend my best wishes for a fruitful “Year for Priests” filled  with every good blessing!




Cláudio Card. Hummes       


della Congregazione per il Clero

Franc Card. Rodé

Prefetto della Congregazione

per gli Istituti di vita Consacrata

e le Società di vita apostolica


X Mauro Piacenza

Arciv. tit. di Vittoriana



X Gianfranco Gardin, OFM Conv.

Arciv. tit. di Torcello