By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Amidst thousands chanting “Viva o Papa” as he arrived for an historic visit to Fatima yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI used the occasion to consecrate the world’s priests to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In Fatima’s Church of the Holy Trinity, the pope addressed himself to Mary and prayed on behalf of the world’s 400,000 priests: “Help us, through your powerful intercession, never to fall short of this sublime vocation, nor to give way to our selfishness, to the allurements of the world and to the wiles of the Evil One.”
He also stopped at the Chapel of Apparitions where he knelt in prayer before the statue of the Virgin whose crown sports the bullet the nearly killed Pope John Paul II after an assassination attempt in 1981. “It is a profound consolation to know that you are crowned not only with the silver and gold of our joys and hopes, but also with the ‘bullet’ of our anxieties and sufferings,” the Holy Father prayed.
He purposefully alluded to the abuse scandals during an address to clergy when he urged them to be wary of “those situations where there is a certain weakening of priestly ideals or dedication to activities not fully consonant with what is proper for a minister of Jesus Christ.”
He urged them to help one another, saying “this is the time to take a firm stand, with an attitude of warm fraternal love, as brother assisting his brother to remain on his feet.”
This was not the only controversial issue the Pope was willing to confront during his four day journey to Portugal. The AFP reports that he addressed 1,500 artists, scientists and intellectuals in Lisbon Benedict, and told them that Portuguese society was going through a “turbulent period.”
“For a society made up mainly of Catholics, and whose culture has been profoundly marked by Christianity, the search for truth apart from Christ proves dramatic,” he said.
He also met for 30 minutes with Portugal’s Prime Minister Jose Socrates, a strong supporter of the gay marriage legislation recently that was recently passed by the country’s parliament and is expected to be signed into law next week.
Thus far, the crowds greeting the pope have been enormous and enthusiastic. A half million people are expected to attend the papal Mass in Fatima today and police estimate 280,000 attended his first open air Mass in Lisbon on Tuesday.
To read the full text of the Pope’s prayer of consecration to the Immaculate Heart, visit http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/prayers/documents/hf_ben-xvi_20100512_affidamento-fatima_en.html
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