Thursday, 10 June 2010

Closure of the Year for Priests: Build-up in Rome

10,000 priests from 91 countries have gathered in Rome to be with Pope Benedict when he closes the Year for Priests with a Mass from St. Peter's Square tomorrow at 10am (Italian/French time).

1. Yesterday morning kto tv began a joyful series of 'flash' news items which have included brief interviews with French speaking priests currently in Rome . There are over 700 of them, including 30 bishops. (Does anyone know how many priests from England, Wales and Scotland are there? I've just checked the E & W Conference site and there is nothing readily to be found about this three days of events. My apologies if it is there and I just haven't been able to ferret it out.)

Three features stand out in the interviews with the French priests: first their love for and gratitude to Pope Benedict, second their fraternal joy in being together in such large numbers, and third their commitment to a deep internal renewal of their priestly vows and sense of mission, individually and as a body.

Yesterday one of them spoke of an accidental meeting with another priest on the Roman metro and of how wonderful it was for them to chat to each other in French.

In the evening flash the Bishop of Pontoise described the 760-strong march of French Priests along the Appian Way before Vespers at St. John Lateran. The bishop said that during the march he had met a young priest from Provence who normally lives and works alone. The bishop then recounted the joy on that young priest's face at being with so many of his brothers.

This morning the interview was with a priest from Gabon. When asked why he had come to Rome, he said that he had responded to Pope Benedict's invitation as a cry from the heart. In the difficult times we have been going through, the Pope himself has need of comfort in his mission. "I have come to show the Pope how much I love him and how much I love the Church." He concluded by avowing that he wished to renew his own sense of mission, and that it will bear fruit in his own country.

And this afternoon a priest from Togo was asked why he had come. Referring to Pope Benedict, he said, "Because Papa called me." Had this been a year of interior renewal for him? "Yes." And what will remain for him now the year is ending? "Joy in being a priest."

As for us, over at 'Clerical Reform' our vocation is mentioned with gratitude; and at yesterday's General Audience the Holy Father invited the faithful throughout the world to participate with prayer in these closing events.

Have a holy vigil everyone.

In Christo pro Papa

2. Yesterday afternoon in the Paul VI Audience hall Cardinal Bertone addressed several thousand of the priests. For a report on this please see the Zenit report

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