Vatican City (Fides Service) – “Peter and Paul are ‘friends of God’ in a singular way, because they drank the Cup of the Lord…if we think of the calling and personal story of the apostles, Peter and Paul, we see that the apostolic and missionary impulse was in proportion to the depth of their conversion. Tested by the bitter experience of human nothingness they were liberated by the Lord”. In the early evening of Sunday 29 June, in St Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II presided a solemn Mass and presented the new archbishops created during the past year with the traditional Pallium, taken from a casket resting on the tomb of Saint Peter. The Pope imposed the Pallium on the shoulders of 40 archbishops present and consigned two pallium for Archbishops unable to attend who will receive the emblem in their metropolitan See.
“Dearest and venerable Brother Metropolitan archbishops, you have come to receive the pallium, the personal history of each is different, but you are all among those whom Christ counts as his friends – the Pope said in his homily -. As I am about to vest you with this traditional liturgical emblem, which you will wear during solemn celebrations as a sign of communion with the Apostolic See, I ask you to consider it a memorial of Christ’s sublime friendship which we have the honour and joy of sharing. In the name of the Lord, be “friends” you too in turn of those entrusted to you by God. Your episcopal Sees are situated in various parts of the world: imitating the Good Shepherd, watch over and care for each of your communities. Carry to them my warmest greetings, together with the assurance that the Pope prays for all, particularly those who experience hard trials and encounter the greatest difficulties”.
As usual on the occasion of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, patrons saints of the city of Rome, the Papal Mass was attended by a delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, led by Archbishop Demetrios head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The Pope greeted the special guests in his homily: “Welcome dear and venerable Brothers! I greet you in the name of the Lord and I ask you to transmit my embrace of peace to my beloved Brother in Christ, Patriarch Bartholomew. The reciprocal exchange of delegations for the feast of Saint Andrew in Constantinople and that of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome has, with the passing of time, become an eloquent sign of our commitment to reach full unity. The Lord, who knows our weakness and hesitation, promises us his help to overcome the obstacles which prevent the concelebration of the same Eucharist. This is why, venerable Brothers, to welcome you and have you here beside me at this solemn liturgical gathering strengthens hope and gives concrete form to that longing which spurs us towards full communion”.
John Paul II then recalled the different efforts of Saints Peter and Paul to build up the one Church of Christ and he renewed his own commitment to work for unity: “As the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Saint Peter, today in the evocative framework of this celebration, I renew my complete willingness to put myself at the service of communion of all Christ’s disciples. Help me, dearest brothers and sisters, with the unceasing support of your prayers. Invoke for me the heavenly intercession of Mary Mother of the Church and the Apostles Peter and Paul” SL (Fides Service 30/6/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 478)