Friday, October 6, 2023

Vatican to host international Congress on Vocations


Pope Francis and Cardinal Marc Ouellet at the opening of Symposium on priesthood at the Vatican on 17 February 2022Pope Francis and Cardinal Marc Ouellet at the opening of Symposium on priesthood at the Vatican on 17 February 2022  (AFP or licensors)

Vatican to host Congress on vocations in March 2024

Cardinal Marc Ouellet is organising an international Congress on vocations to be held in the Vatican in March 2024, which seeks to propose faith in Jesus Christ and communion with others to a society flailing for meaning.

By Vatican News

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect Emeritus of the Dicastery for Bishops, together with the CRAV (Centre for Research and Anthropology of Vocations), is preparing a follow-up to the previous 2022 symposium dedicated to the theology of the priesthood.

The Congress will be held in the Vatican on 1-2 March 2024 on the theme, "Man-Woman: Image of God. Towards an Anthropology of Vocations".

In the following interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Ouellet presented the goals of the Congress.

Q: Cardinal Marc Ouellet, what is the significance of this initiative?

First of all, I'd like to remind you that this initiative follows on from the Symposium held in February 2022 at the Paul VI Hall on the theme: “Toward a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood.” The Church is in a profound synodal research to develop the active participation of all the faithful in view of a deeper ecclesial communion that has an impact on mission.

A synodal Church will grow to the extent that it goes beyond the discussion of ideas to engage people and vocations. To this end, the fundamental theme of priesthood has brought to the fore the participation of all the baptized in the priesthood of Christ, and the pastoral service that the ordained ministry assumes for the benefit of the priestly community of the baptized.

The anthropological theme of 1-2 March 2024 – “Man-Woman: Image of God” – continues this synodal research by deepening the foundations of Christian anthropology that enable all vocations to be built on the Word of God, in the midst of the challenges posed by contemporary cultural currents that raise many questions and uncertainties about human and Christian identity.

A synodal Church that wants vocations must be welcoming to everyone in society, but it cannot build its own witness on sand, so it must rely on an anthropology firmly rooted in the Word of God. This is the significance of the initiative that CRAV is organizing with the support of Pope Francis, who will personally take part in the two-day Congress at the Synod Hall.

Q: What do you expect from this Congress?

We hope to offer reasons for hope and engagement. The common experience of our secularized societies speaks of loneliness, individualism, excessive consumption, multiple addictions, suicides and so on. These phenomena have their roots in the decline of the family, the absence of reference points, education subjugated to ideologies, the globalization of indifference, the crisis of hope.

What does Christian anthropology offer us? First of all, faith in Christ as the transcendent foundation, clear reference points on the human vocation, reasons to live and even to suffer in the service of Love; the Christian vision of man and woman promotes self-giving as the path to happiness, self-realization in service and communion with others in a horizon of solidarity and brotherhood with humanity as a whole.

This Congress will thus provide a highly up-to-date vision for educators and trainers in all areas of Christian formation, including families of course. This is academic research, with international participation and the prospect of publication in four languages.

The scientific approach does not preclude reflection on vocations, to identify obstacles to commitment and to provide means of overcoming uncertainties and the scandal of counter-testimonies, which are quite common these days. Participants will need to register in advance, as space in the Synod Hall is limited to 300 participants. Please remember that the Symposium in the Paul VI Hall had over 700 participants.

Q: How are the Proceedings of Symposium 2022 on the Priesthood being distributed?

The Proceedings of the Symposium are being published in two volumes and in six languages, as promised.

It's the biggest update on the priesthood theme since the Second Vatican Council. Study days are being organized on various continents to disseminate the proceedings and promote an appreciation of their originality, which consists in studying the relationship between the two forms of participation in Christ's Priesthood, the baptismal form and the ministerial form based on the sacrament of Holy Orders. A spiritual retreat in this same spirit will be held on 4 November 2023 at the Angelicum University in Rome.

This communication is very useful for the Church's synodal research, because it raises awareness of the reality of baptism and its priestly and missionary dimension. I'm personally on a major promotional tour covering four continents and a number of capitals: Madrid, Paris, Abidjan, Washington, Brasilia, Bogotà, etc.

We're counting on the episcopal authorities to support us. We're counting on the episcopates and local resources involved in the study days to make this heritage of wisdom known in formation circles, and to invite people to share in the costs of our initiative.

Q: How can we discover the beauty of every vocation?

Pope Francis often speaks of holiness in ordinary life, that of the people next door whom we rub shoulders with every day and often ignore. We have just experienced the World Youth Day in Lisbon, where thousands of young people regained awareness of the beauty of their faith and their Church.

CRAV organized testimonies from married couples and families, as well as priests and religious, for thousands of young people who came to the Jeronimo’s Church.

Testimonies reveal that they were struck by the presentation of three testimonies in one hour, which showed the complementarity and reciprocity of vocations, in a word the "communion of vocations". The beauty of each vocation becomes clearer when we discover that we are committed together in a synodal and missionary Church.

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