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Pope's Talk Inspires Renewed Enthusiasm for Vatican II
Carol Glatz
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013
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Pope Benedict XVI speaks during an audience with priests of the Diocese of Rome Feb. 14.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI's walk down memory lane, recalling his participation in the Second Vatican Council, was an inspiration, reviving renewed zeal for evangelization in this Year of Faith, a number of priests said.

Every year, the day after Ash Wednesday, the pope, who is bishop of Rome, meets with the priests in his diocese, including foreign priests studying in Rome.

About 3,500 priests in the Vatican's Paul VI hall listened to the pope's recollections and interpretation of what the council fathers intended 50 years ago.

Father Ben Jerson Canete of the Philippine island of Mindanao, who is studying biblical theology at Rome's Pontifical Urbanian University, said his familiarity with the themes discussed at the Second Vatican Council came from his university studies.

But "this was the first time for me to hear it from an expert who was there and who is a pope," he told Catholic News Service.

"His giving the proper interpretation (of Vatican II) is excellent for me," he said, and it's clear "we have to re-educate the people, go back to basics."

Clergy need to help lay Catholics see "the beauty and richness of the faith" and underline how there is "one revelation in the world" in sacred Scripture, said Father Canete. Proper interpretation of the past in light of revelation and then "education is everything," he said.

"Considering the past and looking to our roots will drive us forward, and it lets us see where we're to head to," he added.

Father Canete said Pope Benedict has left a positive message, which the priest summarized as, "The church is not crumbling, we just need to begin anew."

By emphasizing in his talk that all Christians together make up the living body of the church, the pope is reminding priests how much support is out there, the priest said.

"The whole church is with us priests, so we can't be pessimistic. We need to move on and do something, and it starts with us."

Msgr. Marco Ceccarelli, chaplain at Rome's LUMSA University, told CNS that the pope leaves behind "a great heritage as a scholar and witness of that season (of Vatican II) that still has to develop and mature."

"Today, 50 years on, we have to read these documents" because there is still much to glean from them, he said.

Father Albert Hemrom of the Diocese of Dibrugarh in Assam, India, said he was very impressed with the amount of detail the pope remembered about the council.

"It shows his mental powers are still strong," said the priest, who is working on a doctorate in canon law at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University.

He said Pope Benedict showed him how important it is to have a determined mind.

"He shows that whatever situation you're in, you have to face it and to do that you need to have a tough mind," he said.

However, the pope balanced that mental toughness with gentle humility, "combining both halves," he said.

Father Lucas Ongesa Manwa of Kenya's Kisii Diocese said he was very excited to hear the pope's words of encouragement.

The pope's message was about renewal, starting with oneself, said the priest, who is studying dogmatic theology in Rome.

"We need to be transformed internally, to change our attitude, our thinking, change our approach," he said.

Part of that new approach has to be church authority and the priestly ministry seeing themselves as servants, he said, adding, "We need to come to the people" and serve them.

One example is to "take the Gospel to the people in their homes," then use family values like dialogue and reconciliation as a model for the church in the new evangelization.

Christians, especially priests, have the responsibility to implement Christ's teachings; they are "commissioned by Christ to go out into the world and evangelize," he said.

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Contributing to this story was Lauren Colegrove in Rome.

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