Cardinals Give Pope "Different" Anniversary Gift

Offer Contribution to Help Poor of Rome

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2011 ( The College of Cardinals gave Benedict XVI a check for more than $72,000 on Friday as a gift for his 60th anniversary as a priest. The money will be used to help the poor of Rome.

Last Wednesday, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Pope celebrated his priestly anniversary. On Friday, he dined with members of the College of Cardinals in the Ducal Hall of the Apostolic Vatican Palace.

For the occasion, the Pope quoted the words of Psalm 133 «Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity,» highlighting the beauty of coexistence and of living together the joy of priesthood, reported the semi-official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

The Holy Father briefly summarized his life since the day of his priestly ordination, held in 1951 in a Germany destroyed by the War, with an economy in crisis and widespread material and spiritual poverty.

He recalled the years after the Second Vatican Counci and the difficult time of the culture revolution of 1968, during which he worked in close contact with Pope John Paul II, and then his unexpected election to the Chair of Peter.

Over these 60 years, he said, many things have changed, but the Lord’s fidelity has remained intact, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. «With his help we go forward,» he said.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, greeted the Pope on behalf of the college. He said that considering the «pastoral sensibility» of the Pontiff toward «his beloved diocese of Rome,» the cardinals decided to give him «a different present,» offering him «a contribution for the poor of Rome, considering the urgent needs of so many Romans, as well as of numerous immigrants and refugees.»

«With this same spirit of participation in his pastoral concern, the College of Cardinals also offered a meal to 200 poor of Rome, precisely on the feast of St. Peter, by the initiative of the College of Cardinals and of St. Peter’s Circle,» he added.

He mentioned that some of the guests had written a thank you note, which the cardinal showed to Benedict XVI.

«The tragedy of poverty in Rome is known by all of us,» said Cardinal Sodano. «In the face of this reality, the Church of Rome wishes to be today, more than ever, the Church of charity.»

He explained that the cardinals «collected [funds] over these days among us, which Your Holiness will be able to allocate as you think best. «

The cardinal concluded on behalf of his brothers: «Holiness, always feel us close to you, above all on this beautiful day, while we say in unison: here’s to many years, to many very happy years!» 

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