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Pope Francis

Pray, be poor, be close to the people, pope tells new priests

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Pope Francis holds his crosier during the ordination Mass for nine new priests for the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 25. CNS photo/Donatella Giagnori, pool

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The priesthood “is not a career, it is a service,” Pope Francis told nine men just before ordaining them to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rome. The service to which priests are called must reflect the way God has cared and continues to care for his people, a “style of closeness, a style of compassion and a style of tenderness,” the pope told the men April 25 during his homily at the ordination Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Mass marked the first time in more than a year that Pope Francis presided at a liturgy at the main altar in the basilica and the first time that more than a few hundred people were allowed in at the same time. Close to 1,000 people, mainly family and friends of the ordinands, sat socially distanced and wearing masks throughout the Mass. Rather than walking the entire length of the basilica, Pope Francis processed into the Mass from the Altar of the Chair, avoiding a situation where people would crowd together at the center aisle to see him up close and take photos.

The new priests, who are between the ages of 26 and 43, include six Italians, a Romania, a Colombian and a Brazilian. Six studied at Rome’s major seminary; two prepared for the priesthood at the Neocatechumenal Way’s Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Rome; and one attended the Rome Seminary of Our Lady of Divine Love.

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