By Mark Abrams

By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 400 priests from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia gathered on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on the Ben Franklin Parkway to renew their priestly vows.

Archbishop Charles Chaput called on his brother priests to renew their commitment to the word of God and to a ministry to which they were entrusted by God.

Chaput spoke of how important it is for those in the priesthood to remain faithful. And, he made his first public reference to the clergy abuse scandal since his arrival last fall.

“This past year has been a difficult time for the whole church of Philadelphia,” he said. “But it has been a uniquely painful way of the cross for every priest.”

Chaput said conversion and renewal are crucial for priests and bishops because their vocation calls upon them to spark God’s love in the hearts of his people.

“If priests and bishops don’t change, very little in the life of the church can change,” he said.

Dozens of people sitting at the back broke into applause as the priests processed out of the cathedral.

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