Skip to comments.Benedict XVI urges Belgian bishops to promote vocations, highlights St. Damien (Open)
Posted on 05/10/2010 1:43:34 PM PDT by markomalley
Pope Benedict underlined the irreplaceable role of priests to the Church during his address to the bishops of Belgium this past weekend. He urged support for the priesthood and a renewed impetus for vocations, saying that the decrease in the number of priests is not inevitable.
The Holy Father met with the Belgian Bishops at the conclusion of their "ad Limina" visit on Saturday morning.
Noting the Vatican II conclusion that the Church cannot do without its priests, he said that "it is therefore necessary and urgent to confer upon them their right place and recognize their irreplaceable sacramental character." Pope Benedict also addressed the trend of a decreasing number of Catholic priests in the country, telling them that it should not be seen as an inevitable process.
A "broad and serious" vocations ministry is needed to confront the situation, said the Pope. This ministry, he continued, must place great significance of the holiness of priests, on attention to the presence of the first signs of vocations in youth and on "assiduous and trusting prayer, according to Jesus' recommendation."
Benedict XVI went on to recognize and greet all priests and consecrated people from Belgium, asking that they and the faithful "not forget that only Christ can silence every storm," and that He gives them strength and courage "to lead holy lives in full fidelity to their ministry, consecration to God and Christian testimony."
He pointed to recently canonized St. Damien of Molokai as an exemplary priest and missionary, whose greatness "resided in his interior wealth, in his constant prayer and in his union with Christ which he saw present in his brothers and to whom ... he donated himself without reserve."
Pope Benedict encouraged the bishops to continue in their efforts to promote Christian formation, "especially with the younger generations" on respect for life, the institution of marriage and the family.
Speaking to journalists after the audience, Archbishop Andre Joseph Leonard, primate of Belgian Catholics, said that there is full understanding between the Holy Father and the episcopate as to the line that is being taken on sexual abuses. He also said that the Pope's words were encouraging for priests in the country who are suffering from stereotypes due to the news coverage of sexual abuse.
His father, a small farmer, sent him to a college at Braine-le-Comte, to prepare for a commercial profession; but as a result of a mission given by the Redemptorists in 1858, Joseph decided to become a religious. He entered the novitiate of the Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary at Louvain, and took in religion the name of Damien. He was admitted to the religious profession, 7 Oct. 1860. Three years later, though still in minor orders, he was sent to the mission of the Hawaiian Islands, where he arrived, 19 March, 1864. Ordained priest at Honolulu 24 May of the same year, he was later given charge of various districts on the island of Hawaii, and, animated with a burning zeal, his robust constitution allowed him to give full play to the impulses of his heart. He was not only the missionary of the natives, but also constructed several chapels with his own hands, both in Hawaii and in Molokai.
On the latter island there had grown up a leper settlement where the Government kept segregated all persons afflicted with the loathsome disease. The board of health supplied the unfortunates with food and clothing, but was unable in the beginning to provide them with either resident physicians or nurses. On 10 May, 1873, Father Damien, at his own request and with the sanction of his bishop, arrived at the settlement as its resident priest. There were then 600 lepers. "As long as the lepers can care for themselves", wrote the superintendent of the board of health to Bishop Maigret, "they are comparatively comfortable, but as soon as the dreadful disease renders them helpless, it would seem that even demons themselves would pity their condition and hasten their death." For a long time, however, Father Damien was the only one to bring them the succour they so greatly needed. He not only administered the consolations of religion, but also rendered them such little medical service and bodily comforts as were within his power. He dressed their ulcers, helped them erect their cottages, and went so far as to dig their graves and make their coffins. After twelve years of this heroic service he discovered in himself the first symptoms of the disease. This was in 1885. He nevertheless continued his charitable ministrations, being assisted at this period by two other priests and two lay brothers. On 28 March, 1889, Father Damien became helpless and passed away shortly after, closing his fifteenth year in the service of the lepers.
Certain utterances concerning his morality called forth Robert Louis Stevenson's well-known philippic against the Rev. Dr. Hyde, wherein the memory of the Apostle of the Lepers is brilliantly vindicated. In addition a correspondence in the "Pacific Commercial Advertiser", 20 June, 1905, completely removes from the character of Father Damien every vestige of suspicion, proving beyond a doubt that Dr. Hyde's insinuations rested merely on misunderstandings.
What does (Open) mean?
It means ¬(Caucus)
How does that apply to this article?
I went to Molokai a number of years ago on a family trip to Hawaii. It’s an incredible place and he was an incredible person.
At that time, leprosy was considered to be a sexually transmitted disease (it’s not) so people who got it were often shunned and considered immoral in addition to being exiled. Fr. Damian set up this colony so that they would be treated humanely and also so that their families and children (who did not necessarily have leprosy) could live without stigma. It’s at the foot of tall basalt cliffs and barely accessible even now, but the village gave them a good life.
When Fr Damian got leprosy, which one gets only after extended contact with lepers, such as living in a community of lepers, a number of Protestants rushed out of the woodwork and started accusing him of immorality. Needless to say, they were doing nothing themselves to alleviate the sufferings of these people.
It means anybody can participate. Sometimes when Catholic articles appear, a small group of vicious nasty folk appear with their anti-Catholic ravings and prevent any commentary on the actual article, so the “caucus” designation means that it is in theory only open to the people in that particular caucus. This one is open.
St. Damien is one of my faviorite saints. God bless him for ministering to all the lepers in Hawaii.
Priest Who Aided Lepers In Hawaii To Become Saint
"Lepers' Apostle" to Be Declared a Saint
Finally, It's Official: Molokai's Hero = Hawaii's Saint
A Parish of Lepers [Bl. Damien Joseph de Veuster of Molokai]
Bld. Damien Joseph de Veuster of Molokai
Prayer For Vocations
Lord, Jesus Christ, You are the Saviour of the world.
Please manifest in Your church, the Spirit whom You also abundantly bestowed on Your apostles.
Call many to the priesthood and religious life.
May zeal for Your glory and for the salvation of the world inflame those You have chosen.
May they be saints in Your likeness. May Your Holy Spirit strengthen them. May they be priests and religious according to Your own Heart.
Thank you for the explanation.