Pope Francis leads historical global eucharist event

(Photo: Reuters / Kham)Catholics attend the worldwide hour of Eucharistic adoration in front of the St. Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi June 2, 2013. Pope Francis led Roman Catholics on Sunday in the first worldwide "Holy Hour," in which participants prayed at the same time around the globe for those suffering from war, slave labor, human trafficking and the economic crisis.

Since his election in March, Pope Francis has proven to be something of an iconoclast.

On Holy Thursday, he famously washed the feet of young Muslims in a Rome prison, including those of a girl – the first time a pontiff had ever washed a female's feet.

He still refuses to live in Apostolic Palace, preferring to stay in a nearby modest guesthouse instead.

So it should perhaps come as no surprise that on June 2, Francis was, again, key in another first for the Catholic Church. From St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Francis led an hour of Eucharistic Adoration, which was broadcast around the world in real time.

Catholics around the globe tuned in to celebrate simultaneously with the pope, including some 19 million of the faithful in India, 243 dioceses and parishes in the United States and isolated churches in the Amazon rainforest.

"For those around the world who still suffer slavery and who are victims of war, human trafficking, drug running, and slave labor. For the children and women who are suffering from every type of violence," Pope Francis prayed.

"May their silent scream for help be heard by a vigilant Church so that, gazing upon the crucified Christ, she may not forget the many brothers and sisters who are left at the mercy of violence. Also, for all those who find themselves in economically precarious situations, above all for the unemployed, the elderly, migrants, the homeless, prisoners, and those who experience marginalization.

"That the Church's prayer and its active nearness give them comfort and assistance in hope and strength and courage in defending human dignity," said the pontiff in his prayer.

The global event is part of the Church's designation of 2013 as the Year of Faith, which seeks to promote the understanding that the Catholic faith is "the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."

Participants were asked to pray for the Church and for people who are suffering, including victims of trafficking, prisoners and those facing economic hardship.

According to Catholic scholars, Eucharistic Adoration has existed some form since the first century. Monks who were contemporaries of Ignatius of Antioch were known to reserve the consecrated elements in their hermitages.

By the Council of Nicea in 325, the practice had begun to take on its current form, being reserved in churches and monasteries, although only to be taken to the sick and dying.

Today, the consecrated elements are reserved by all churches and Catholic teaching mandates they be made easily available to the faithful for the purpose of adoration.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News