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Pope Holds Holy Thursday Services in Rome and Vatican City

  • Sabina Castelfranco

Pope Benedict XVI made no mention of the child sex abuse scandal engulfing the Roman Catholic Church in his services on Holy Thursday, traditionally dedicated to the priesthood. The pope celebrated a ceremony in Saint John Lateran Basilica to commemorate Jesus' Last Supper, and in the morning he held a Chrism Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica.

Holy Thursday is the day the Catholic Church dedicates to the priesthood and when priests renew the vows they took when they were ordained. At a ceremony in Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome, Pope Benedict washed the feet of 12 priests.

Wearing a white apron, the pope poured water over one bare foot of each of the priests, and then dried it with a white cloth. As one priest explained to the congregation, the traditional ceremony symbolizes humility.

Pope Benedict decided that the offerings from the mass would be given to help rebuild the seminary in Port-au-Prince, Haiti that was destroyed in a devastating earthquake in January.

During the service, the pope made no direct mention of the widening clerical sex abuse scandal engulfing the church. He said that Catholics are called upon to conduct a "constant examination of conscience."

In the morning, while celebrating the annual Chrism Mass with the priests of the Rome diocese in Saint Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict emphasized the need for Christians to resist injustice and to struggle for the cause of truth.

The faithful should imitate the courage of the early Christian martyrs, he said, and "not accept an injustice that is elevated in law" such as abortion.

On Friday, Pope Benedict is scheduled to take part in the traditional Way of the Cross procession at Rome's ancient Coliseum to commemorate Jesus' crucifixion.