By Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes
When—as we often hear—there are too few priests, can and should lay people assume some part of the priestly ministry? And when all men and women have equal dignity in the eyes of God, is it not also time to organize parishes democratically? Also, why does the Church need priests at all?
Just in time for the “Year for Priests,” Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes, the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and a close friend of Pope Benedict XVI, offers a wide-ranging view of the priesthood which draws on the Holy Father’s thinking and scholarship over a period of fifty years. The book covers four major themes: origins of priesthood, development through the history of the Church, the limitations and problems faced by priests, and finally, personal faith and the Church’s salvific means. Through these reflections the Cardinal offers a deeper understanding of the Catholic priesthood which is sure to be helpful for the priest and his parish, the seminarian and his ambience, as well as all those interested in the priestly ministry and the Church’s decision-making process.
Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes was born in Kirchhundern, Germany, in 1934 and ordained a priest in 1961. After studying medicine, philosophy and theology in Münster, Paderborn and Lyon, he was awarded a doctorate in 1971 under the direction of Cardinal Karl Lehmann. He worked for the Secretariat of the German Bishops’ Conference and in 1975 was named Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn by Pope Paul VI. In 1980, Pope John Paul II called him to Rome as Vice President of the Pontifi cal Council for the Laity. Appointed President of the Pontifi cal council “Cor Unum” in 1995, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.