Pope`s Holy Thursday Mass dedicated to priests
Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI urged priests
to oppose violence as he led a ceremony dedicated to the
priesthood on Thursday, marking Holy Week with his church buffeted
by clergy sex abuse scandals in Europe.
"As priests, we are called in fellowship with Jesus
Christ, to be men of peace, we are called to oppose violence
and trust in the greater power of love," Benedict said in his
Holy Thursday homily in St. Peter`s Basilica.
He made no mention of the scandals, as some thought he
might do on a day the church pays tribute to its priests.
Spread out before him, in white robes, was row after row
of priests, who responded in chorus to his chants in Latin. A
choir of men and boys intoned solemn hymns.
The late morning Mass, the first of several appearances
Benedict will make in the final days of Holy Week before
Easter, was described by the Vatican as a sign of strict union
between the pontiff in his role of pastor of the world`s 1
billion Catholics and his fellow priests.
In the evening, Benedict will wash the feet of 12 priests
- a traditional sign of humility - at a Holy Thursday ceremony
in St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome.
Benedict began the morning Mass by sprinkling incense, in
a purifying rite, around the central altar of St. Peter`s.
Revelations of scandals involving paedophile priests have
exploded across continental Europe this year, including when
the pontiff was an archbishop in his native Germany. The
myriad of reports come atop of years of allegations and court
cases involving clergy abuse in schools and other church
institutions in the United States, Ireland, Australia, Canada
Victims are demanding that the pope take responsibility
for what they say were decades of systematic cover-ups by
church hierarchy of clergy abuse, including a widespread
practice of transferring paedophile priests from one parish to
another after allegations of rape or other sexual abuses were
They also want him to say what he did or didn`t do while
he was Munich archbishop and in the nearly two decades that he
led the Vatican office dealing with sex abuse as Cardinal
Joseph Ratzinger during John Paul II`s papacy. In one court
case in the United States, plaintiff lawyers are working to
get Benedict to testify, despite his diplomatic status as head
of sovereign Vatican City State.
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