CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARRING
Pope Benedict congratulates a new priest after ordaining him in St. Peter's Basilica.
VATICAN CITY - Catholics must be more courageous in highlighting and fostering vocations, Pope Benedict said.
"Every Christian community, every member of the Church needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations," he said in his message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
This is especially true in an era when God's voice "seems to be drowned out by 'other voices' and his invitation to follow him by the gift of one's own life may seem too difficult," the pope said.
Those who experience a clear call to priestly or consecrated life need encouragement, support and the possibility of feeling "the warmth of the whole community as they respond 'yes' to God and the Church," he said.
The day of prayer is observed May 15. The 2011 theme is Proposing Vocations in the Local Church.
In his message, Pope Benedict said following Christ is a challenging way of life that "is capable of engaging the whole of one's life."
The local Church needs to become "more sensitive and attentive" to helping children and young people grow in their relationship with Christ, he said.
That relationship can grow through prayer and the sacraments, greater familiarity with sacred Scriptures, and an attitude of generosity and love toward others, he said.
It can also be aided when people "understand that entering into God's will does not crush or destroy a person, but instead leads to the discovery of the deepest truth about ourselves," he said.
The pope underlined the importance of having quality staff in every diocesan vocations office.
He also called on bishops to help maintain "an equitable distribution of priests in the world."
"Your openness to the needs of dioceses experiencing a dearth of vocations will become a blessing from God for your communities and a sign to the faithful of a priestly service that generously considers the needs of the entire Church," he told bishops.