Pope selects American priest for rare St. Peter’s job
For the first time in the 21st century, Pope Benedict XVI has made an American priest a canon of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
“You’re the first of this century and the first of this millennium,” said Cardinal Angelo Comastri during the Jan. 20 celebration for Monsignor Francis D. Kelly.
“This is a celebration of fidelity, and fidelity is maintaining during the whole life the commitment pronounced in your youth,” he added in St. Peter’s Basilica, referring to Msgr. Kelly’s priesthood of 50 years.
Pope Benedict XVI announced his new role in an Oct. 20 decree, giving the 76-year-old the primary tasks of prayer and worship. A canon is a senior priest who is responsible for the celebration of the sacred liturgy at the Vatican basilica and for maintaining a prayerful presence in the place where St. Peter is buried. They lead the recitation of evening prayers and concelebrate Mass on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. as well as on major feast days.