Pontiff Greets 49 New Legionary Priests

Cardinal Sodano Presides at the Ordination

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI greeted 49 newly ordained priests of the Legionaries of Christ, encouraging them to let the love of Christ invigorate their ministry.



The Pope said this today after praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The priests were ordained Saturday by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. More than 3,000 people participated in the ceremony.

"Dear friends," the Pope said, speaking in Italian from the window of his study, "may the love of Christ, that moved St. Paul in his mission, always animate your ministry. I bless you and your loved ones from my heart!"

Thirty-four of the new priests were ordained deacons June 29, the first day of the Pauline Year, convoked by the Pope to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles. The Legionaries of Christ invoke St. Paul as a special protector of their religious congregation.

The ages of the new priests range between 29 and 37. They have prepared from 10-14 years for ordination.

The priests come from 13 countries: 23 come from Mexico, 6 from Spain, 4 from the United States, 3 from Germany, 3 from Brazil, 1 from Argentina, 2 from Colombia, 2 from Italy, 1 from Canada, 1 from Chile, 1 from France, 1 from Ireland and 1 from Venezuela.

A gift

In his homily, Cardinal Sodano expressed his joy in being able to celebrate this ordination and greeted the relatives of the newly ordained men in four languages. Taking his cue from the readings, he spoke of the most important moments in the road of the priesthood: vocation, ordination and mission.

Addressing the deacons, he said: "Our priesthood comes from a gift that we receive from Christ, by way of his holy Church. The priest does not receive the gift of priesthood for his own personal good, rather he receives it for service to others. Every priest, therefore, is called to be a missionary, wherever he finds himself, whatever work is entrusted to him."

"Dear Legionaries of Christ, you too have been chosen by Christ to go and bear fruit, as many of your confreres and many of the generous priests that you have met along your way have done before you," he continued. "What St. Giuseppe Cafasso, a holy priest of my native Piedmont and Don Bosco’s confessor, once said always remains relevant: An eternity is not enough to thank God for having called you to his service!"

Among those present at the celebration were Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, retired apostolic penitentiary, and Father Álvaro Corcuera, director-general of the Legionaries of Christ.

At the end of the ceremony, Father Corcuera said: "In this basilica, near the tomb of St. Paul, we have asked for his intercession in a special way, so that these 49 new priests live to the end of their life as he did, serving Christ and his Church, always close to Mary Most Holy."