Year for Priests Closes at Vatican

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

VATICAN CITY, June 11, 2010- The Eucharistic celebration with the greatest number of concelebrants in the church's history, 55 of whom are Filipinos, was recorded in Rome on Friday.

Some 15, 000 cardinals, bishops and priests from around the world gathered at the St. Peter Square in a Mass presided by Pope Benedict XVI to close the Year for Priests.

In his homily, the pontiff said Year for Priests might have been destroyed by the clerical sex abuse scandal, but instead became a "summons to purification" in the church.

The pope said that "the enemy," Satan, wants to drive God out of the world and opposes those who work to ensure that God is at the side of every man and woman, especially in times of trouble.

"And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light -- particularly the abuse of the little ones, in which the priesthood, whose task is to manifest God's concern for our good, turns into its very opposite," Benedict XVI said.

The priests, 80 cardinals and 350 bishops and archbishops, who were sitting under the hot sun in St. Peter's Square, showed their agreement with the pope's statement by applauding.

The Vatican said that with so many priests vested for Mass and reciting together the Eucharistic prayer with their hands extended toward the altar, the liturgy marked the largest concelebration ever held there.

During the Mass the prayers of the faithful was said in many different languages. Representing the Philippine delegation was a Filipino nun from the Sisters of Saint Paul who read the prayer in Tagalog.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales was on the lead of four Filipino prelates and some fifty priests who attended the occasion.

The other bishops were Ramon Villena of Bayombong, Bernardino Cortez, Auxiliary bishop of Manila, and retired bishops Benjamin Almoneda and Antonio Ranola.

During the Mass, special moments in the celebration were observed such as the "rite of aspersion with the holy water as penitential act." Four concelebrant cardinals joined the pope to sprinkle the assembly.

Monsignor Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, said "This rite was chosen taking into account the solemnity of the Sacred Heart and making reference to the blood and water that gushed from the Lord's heart as salvation for the world and also to take up again the topic of purification, about which, in different circumstances, the Holy Father has spoken recently."

After the homily, the priests renewed their priestly promises as on Holy Thursday in the Chrism Mass.

At the end of the celebration, before the conclusive blessing, Benedict XVI renewed the act of consecration of priests to the Blessed Mother. (CBCPNews)