Great Jubilee News

THOUSANDS OF PRIESTS ARRIVE IN ROME FOR THEIR JUBILEE

Largest Concelebrated Mass in History Thursday

VATICAN CITY, (ZENIT.org).- Thousands of priests from around the world began to arrive in Rome yesterday to celebrate the Jubilee of Priests.

As early as 1996, an international preparatory meeting of priests was held in Fatima. It was followed by meetings in Yamassoukro in the Ivory Coast in 1997, in the Basilica of Guadalupe in 1998, and in Jerusalem last year.

Msgr. Mauro Piacenza, Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, which is organizing this Jubilee, explained to Vatican Radio that St. Peter's Square will be the conclusion of this road
that thousands of priests have traveled over these last few years. The purpose of the whole
endeavor is "to follow Christ with a new strength, which stems from greater awareness of the gift
and mystery, which is the essence of every priest."

One of the unexpected elements of this Jubilee is the number of German and English-speaking
priests participating. Two thousand have already arrived, but the Congregation for the Clergy,
presided by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, is receiving an avalanche of requests for participation
in the climax: the concelebrated Mass with John Paul II, on May 18, the Holy Father's 80th
birthday. Some 4,000 priests are expected, which will make it the largest concelebrated Mass in
history.

The first Jubilee meeting of priests was held yesterday in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. In his
welcome, Cardinal Castrillon invited priests to follow in the Virgin Mary's footsteps, because in this
way "we will be on the good road of conversion and correspond with what the priestly Jubilee
proposes... We priests have given our all to the greatest love, for whom we have renounced
earthly love."

This morning, the priests recited Morning Prayer in the Basilica of St. John Lateran with Cardinal
Vicar of Rome Camillo Ruini, who gave a meditation on the priest's charity, which finds its best
source and expression in the Eucharist.

Mass followed, celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State who, during the
homily, recommended a profound love for the Church. "Your pilgrimage to Rome for the Jubilee
contributes to nourish this flame of love. In this way, every day you will feel a living part of the
great Catholic family, which has its visible center of unity in Peter's Successor. During this Holy
Year, many of our faithful are increasingly discovering the maternal face of the Church."

One of the most significant moments occurred at the end of the morning, when the priests
participating in this Jubilee went to confession with one another. This afternoon they heard an
address by Cardinal Dario Castrillon in the Vatican's General Audience Hall, putting the finishing
touch to this day that had as its theme, "The Priest Who Works in an Individual Church in Union
with the Universal Church." 

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