Pope Greets 59 Newly Ordained Legionary Priests
11 Countries Represented
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The Pope acknowledged the families of the newly ordained, as well as the accompanying members of Regnum Christ, the lay apostolic movement that shares the congregation's charism.
The new Legionary priests originate from 11 countries: 29 from Mexico, 9 from the United States, 7 from Spain, 3 from Canada, 2 from Brazil, 2 from Germany, 2 from France, 2 from Italy, 1 from Venezuela, 1 from Vietnam and 1 from the Czech Republic.
The congregation now counts some 860 priests working throughout the world. The newly ordained are between 30 and 40 years old, with the exception of two who are over 50.
The priests were ordained by Legionary Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls where more than 4000 people gathered to watch.
In the homily, Bishop Farrell noted the significance of this ordination during the Year for Priests, and he underlined the priest's mission at the service of the people of God, within the Church.
He said, "If these are difficult times for the Church, they are also, in a particular way, difficult times for Christ's ministers, who have the task of caring for the life and well-being of the pilgrim Church on earth -- hence Christ's ministers often become the objects of the opposition directed towards the Church."
The prelate affirmed that "the Legion, that is now coming to life under the sign of the Cross, will only have a future if we all abandon every sentiment of self-sufficiency and understand that we are essentially in a permanent state of conversion, which is never acquired once and for all."
Founded in Christ
He continued: "The field that the Lord opens up for your work is immense. But the value of your apostolate is not founded on the goods of this world or on yourselves. Rather, its roots are found in the goods that are of Christ; that Christ who lives and grows within us."
The ordination was concelebrated by Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo of the Prelature of Cancun-Chetumal, Bishop Jorge Bernal, retired bishop of the same territorial prelature, Archbishop Luigi de Magistris, retired apostolic penitentiary, and Bishop Paolo Schiavon, auxiliary of Rome.
The Legionaries are currently undergoing a worldwide apostolic visitation initiated by Benedict XVI after the congregation confirmed in February that the life of their founder, Father Marcial Maciel, included actions gravely contrary to Catholic moral teaching.
Speaking in Spanish to the crowd gathered today to pray the midday audience, the Pontiff noted that the day's liturgy invites us "with insistence to joy."
In Christ, he said, the words of the prophet Zephaniah are fulfilled: "The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love."
The Holy Father urged all people, especially the new priests, to continue, "held up by the certainty of God's infinite love manifested in Christ," on the way of spiritual preparation for Christmas, and thus celebrate, "with joy and abundant fruit, the birth of the Savior."