Ultimis temporibus

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Ultimis temporibus (German title: The priestly service) is the name of the post-synodal final document of the 2nd Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church , which was published after the end of the Synod on November 30, 1971.


The 2nd Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in Rome from September 30th to November 6th, 1971 . Its main theme was: “The priestly service and justice in the world”. As a post-synodal letter, the synod issued two declarations on the subjects of “ministerial priesthood” ( Ultimis temporibus ) and “justice in the world” ( De iustitia in mundo ).

The declaration "Ultimis temporis"

Integrated into the introduction, the authors describe the current situation. Two parts follow, in which the doctrines on priestly ministry in general, priestly service, and the value of the priesthood are explained. The next part, entitled “Guidelines for the life and ministry of the priest”, is followed by two subsections: “The priests in the mission of Christ and the Church” and then “the priests in the fellowship of the Church”.


The former Aachen Bishop Klaus Hemmerle took part in the Synod of Bishops as an advisor and was commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference to write an introduction to this document. He replies to public expectations:

“From this it can be understood that a multitude of expectations are directed towards a“ solution ”to the priestly question. In the opinion of many, the last Synod of Bishops did not provide such a solution. While the introductory part of the text, the situation analysis, tears down the areas of tension in which the priest and his ministry are placed today, relatively clearly and clearly, and also reveals the connection between the question of the priest and the basic questions of Christianity and the Church, they seem to compare practical-concrete answers of Part II (guidelines) with no balanced answer "

- Klaus Hemmerle

Regarding the content of the text, he continued:

“The text of the Roman Synod of Bishops on the priestly service delivers more than it promises at first sight. In the network of many quotations from the Holy Scriptures and from the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the contours of a priestly image emerge on careful reading, which is by no means exhausted in the obvious and common ... Certainly, a lot of what many expect from the Roman Synod of Bishops she couldn't afford. A sober assessment of the situation and its requirements, but also of the possibilities of a dialogue whose partners from all over the world had to conduct it from the most varied of perspectives, meanwhile, turns the critical inquiry into the performance of the Synod at the same time into a critical inquiry into those expectations. that were aimed at her. "

- Klaus Hemmerle


  • Roman Synod of Bishops 1971, The Priestly Service, Justice in the World , published by the German Bishops' Conference, Paulinus Verlag, Trier, 1972

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