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Pope Honors Priests Before Easter

On Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI began ceremonies commemorating the last days of Christ with the Chrism Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica. The pope recalled the sacrifice of an Italian priest killed in Turkey.

On Holy Thursday the Catholic Church commemorates the day Christ founded the priesthood, and Pope Benedict's mass in Saint Peter's Basilica was dedicated to priests. Hundreds of priests attended the mass, in which they renewed their priestly vows.

Pope Benedict XVI reminded them of the true meaning of being a priest. He told them a priest should be first of all a man of prayer.

The pope said the world, in its frenzied activism, often loses its bearings. He said its action and capacities become destructive, if the forces of prayer swoon.

He said the world needs God - not an ordinary God - but the God of Jesus Christ, the God who died for us and was then resurrected.

At the end of his homily the pope turned his thoughts to Andrea Santoro, an Italian priest who was shot and killed February 5 in Turkey while he prayed in his parish.

Pope Benedict read a letter that was written by the priest in which Father Santoro spoke of his willingness to offer his own body for the sake of preaching Catholicism in largely Muslim Turkey.

During the mass, the pope blessed huge silver vats of oil, which are used in Church ceremonies.

In the evening, the pope celebrated another mass in which he washed the feet of 12 men to commemorate Jesus' Last Supper with his 12 apostles.

On Good Friday the pope will preside over the celebration of the Lord's Passion in Saint Peter's Basilica and in the evening he will hold the traditional Way of the Cross procession at the Coliseum.