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March 8, 2021

Francis urges priests to act with compassion in his first Holy Thursday as Pope

The Chrism Mass gave the start of four days of religious ceremonies leading up to Easter.

Pope Francis washed the feet of prisoners in a youth detention centre near Rome on Maundy Thursday, the BBC reports.Thousands of pilgrims and tourists are arriving in Rome to attend ceremonies during the holy week ahead of Easter. The washing of feet on the Thursday before Easter is a Christian tradition commemorating Christ’s Last Supper. In a homily, the Pope urged priests to engage more with parishioners, saying: “It is not in soul-searching… that we encounter the Lord.”Worshippers should “leave Mass looking as if they had heard good news”, he told hundreds of cardinals, priests and bishops in St Peter’s Basilica.According to Catholic Herald, Pope Francis has said in his Chrism Mass homily that self-help courses can turn Catholics into “Pelagians” who “minimise the power of grace”.The Pope said at a Mass in St Peter’s Basilica attended by about 1,600 priests that “it is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord”.

He said: “Self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become Pelagians and to minimise the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others.” The Pelagian heresy, popular in the fifth century, holds that people are capable of choosing good without the grace of God.Pope Francis urged priests to “go out” and to live “in the midst of their flock”. He said that, like the “anointed ones”, Isaiah, David and Christ, priests are anounted so that they, in turn, can anount the faithful.

The Pope said: “We need to ‘go out’, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the ‘outskirts’ where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. “A priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little – I won’t say ‘not at all’ because, thank God, our people take our oil from us anyway – misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart.”The Pope said these priests are likely to “grow dissatisfied” since “he doesn’t put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks”.On Good Friday evening the Pope will carry a wooden cross and pray at a ceremony at Rome’s ancient amphitheatre, the Colosseum, commemorating Jesus’ crucifixion. On Saturday evening Pope Francis will celebrate the main Easter Vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica. On Easter Sunday morning, the new Pope will deliver his first “Urbi et Orbi” message to the city of Rome and to the world.

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