Love of truth, a desire to proclaim Christ, and dedication to the suffering are some of the key features the Church needs in its priests, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope made that assessment today at an audience with priests, deacons and seminarians of various countries studying at the Capranica College, the seminary of the Diocese of Rome.
Among the students of the seminary, founded in 1547, were the future Popes Benedict XV and Pius XII.
"To respond to the expectations of modern society, to cooperate in the great evangelizing action which involves all Christians, prepared and courageous priests are needed who, without ambitions and fears, but convinced of the Gospel truth, are concerned above all with proclaiming Christ," said Benedict XVI.
And, "in his name," they must be "willing to bow before human sufferings, making everyone, especially the poor and those going though difficulties, feel the consolation of the love of God and the warmth of the ecclesial family," the Holy Father said.
This implies -- "together with human maturity and diligent adherence to revealed truth, which the magisterium of the Church proposes faithfully -- a serious commitment to personal sanctification and the exercise of virtues, especially humility and charity," the Pope added.
It is also "necessary to nourish communion with the different components of the People of God so that awareness will grow in each one of being part of the one Body of Christ, members of one another," he continued.
For all this to be realized, the Pontiff urged priests and seminarians "to keep their gaze fixed on Christ."
He added: "The more you are in communion with him, the more you will be able to follow faithfully in his footsteps, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that your love for the Lord matures."
I agree with the Holy Father. It is very clear what he is saying here of course, that, by keeping our gaze on Christ, we can immitate Him more perfectly through the graces He gives us. Christ suffered, Christ served, Christ proclaimed. These are all things the Holy Father are calling all priests to do. It is important as, unfortunately, there are some priests who do not keep their gaze on Christ but instead on themselves. I think it is great that the Holy Father is giving those who are priests, training to be priests, and discerning to be priests very simple yet profound guidelines.