VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Today, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica on the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were forty new metropolitan archbishops, upon whom he imposed the pallium. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Pope began his homily by recalling the words of Jesus which Cardinal Faulhaber had addressed to him and other newly-ordained priests sixty years ago: "'Non iam dicam servos, sed amico' - I no longer call you servants, but friends".
"He calls me His friend. ... He grants me the almost frightening faculty to do what only He, the Son of God, can legitimately say and do: I forgive you your sins. ... He entrusts to me the words of consecration in the Eucharist. He trusts me to proclaim His word, to explain it aright and to bring it to the people of today. He entrusts Himself to me".
Benedict XVI explained how the phrase "'No longer servants, but friends' ... contains within itself the entire programme of a priestly life. ... The friendship that He bestows upon me can only mean that I too try to know Him better; that in the Scriptures, in the Sacraments, in prayer, in the communion of saints, in the people who come to me, sent by Him, I try to come to know the Lord Himself more and more. ... In friendship, my will grows together with His will, and His will becomes mine: this is how I become truly myself".
"Jesus' words on friendship should be seen in the context of the discourse on the vine", said the Pope. "The Lord associates the image of the vine with a commission to the disciples: 'I appointed you that you should go out and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide'. ... The Lord challenges us to move beyond the boundaries of our own world and to bring the Gospel to the world of others, so that it pervades everything and hence the world is opened up for God's kingdom".
"After the reference to setting out, Jesus continues: bear fruit, fruit that abides. What fruit does He expect from us? What is this fruit that abides? Now, the fruit of the vine is the grape, and it is from the grape that wine is made. ... Is this not already an image of human life, and especially of our lives as priests?" the Pope asked. "We need both sun and rain, festivity and adversity, times of purification and testing, as well as times of joyful journeying with the Gospel. In hindsight we can thank God for both: for the challenges and the joys, for the dark times and the glad times. In both, we can recognise the constant presence of His love, which unfailingly supports and sustains us".
The Holy Father went on to ask: "What sort of fruit does the Lord expect from us? Wine is an image of love: this is the true fruit that abides, the fruit that God wants from us. ... At a deep level, the essence of love, the essence of genuine fruit, coincides with the idea of setting out, going towards: it means self-abandonment, self-giving, it bears within itself the sign of the cross".
The Pope then addressed a greeting to the delegation sent by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, thanking them "for their visit on the joyful occasion of the feast of the holy Apostles and patrons of Rome".
Turning then to the archbishops upon whom he was about to impose the pallium, he reminded them that this woollen band "reminds us of the Shepherd Who Himself became a lamb, out of love for us. ... It reminds us of Him Who took the lamb - humanity - me - upon His shoulders, in order to carry me home. It thus reminds us that we too, as shepherds in His service, are to carry others with us, taking them as it were upon our shoulders and bringing them to Christ. It reminds us that we are called to be shepherds of His flock, which always remains His and does not become ours. Finally the pallium also means quite concretely the communion of the shepherds of the Church with Peter and with his successors - it means that we must be shepherds for unity and in unity, and that it is only in the unity represented by Peter that we truly lead people to Christ".
Benedict XVI concluded his homily by returning to reflect on his ordination sixty years ago, saying "I feel prompted at this moment to look back upon the things that have left their mark on the last six decades. I feel prompted to address to you, to all priests and bishops and to the faithful of the Church, a word of hope and encouragement; a word that has matured in long experience of how good the Lord is. Above all, though, it is a time of thanksgiving: thanks to the Lord for the friendship that He has bestowed upon me and that He wishes to bestow upon us all. Thanks to the people who have formed and accompanied me. And all this includes the prayer that the Lord will one day welcome us in His goodness and invite us to contemplate His joy. Amen".
CLOSE SPIRITUAL UNION WITH ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE
VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, in a traditional meeting for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, Benedict XVI received a delegation sent by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. The Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople traditionally exchange visits for the feasts of their respective patrons.
The delegation, which delivered a message to the Holy Father on behalf of the Patriarch, was made up of His Eminence Emmanuel (Adenakis), metropolitan of France and director of the office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union; His Eminence Athenagoras (Yves Peckstadt), bishop of Sinope and auxiliary of the metropolitan of Belgium, and Archimandrite Maxime Pothos, vicar general of the metropolitan of Switzerland.
"Your participation in this our feast day, like the presence of our own representatives in Constantinople for the Feast of the Apostle Andrew, is an expression of the friendship and the authentic fraternity which unites the Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, bonds which are solidly rooted in the faith received from the witness of the Apostles", said the Pope in his remarks to the delegation. "The spiritual intimacy we experience each time we meet causes me profound joy and a sense of gratitude towards God. At the same time, however, the incomplete communion which already binds us must grow until it becomes full visible unity.
"We are carefully following the progress of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches", he added. "From a purely human perspective, one could get the impression that theological dialogue proceeds with difficulty. The truth is that its rhythm is linked to the complexity of the questions under discussion, which require extraordinary efforts of scholarship, of reflection, of mutual openness. We are called to continue this journey together in charity, asking the Holy Spirit to give us light and inspiration, in the certainty that He wishes to lead us to the complete fulfilment of Christ's will: that all should be one".
"In a historical context of violence, indifference and selfishness, many men and women of our time feel lost. Yet, with our shared witness of the truth of the Gospel, we can help mankind of our time to rediscover the path that leads to truth. The search for truth always coincides with the search for justice and peace, and it is with great joy that I note the prodigious efforts that His Holiness Bartholomew makes in this area", said the Holy Father.
He concluded by recalling how, following the example of his predecessor Blessed John Paul II, he had invited "our Christian brethren, exponents of other religious traditions of the world and leading figures of culture and science to join me in Assisi, Italy, on 27 October for a day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world. The theme of the meeting will be: 'Pilgrims in truth. Pilgrims in Peace'. Our walking together in the streets of the town of St. Francis will be a sign of our will to continue along the paths of dialogue and fraternity".
VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica, in the course of which he imposed the pallium on the following forty metropolitan archbishops:
1. Archbishop Zbignev Stankevics of Riga, Lithuania.
2. Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia.
3. Archbishop Antoine Ganye Jude of Cotonou, Benin.
4. Archbishop Fausto Gabriel Travez Travez O.F.M. of Quito, Ecuador.
5. Archbishop James Peter Sartain of Seattle, U.S.A.
6. Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales S.D.B. of Guatemala, Guatemala.
7. Archbishop Gonzalo Restrepo Restrepo of Manizales, Colombia.
8. Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, Italy.
9. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller M.S.P.S. of San Antonio, U.S.A.
10. Archbishop Jose Serofia Palma of Cebu, Philippines.
11. Archbishop Pedro Brito Guimaraes of Palmas, Brazil.
12. Archbishop Juan Alberto Puiggari of Parana, Argentina.
13. Archbishop Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil of Daegu, Korea.
14. Archbishop Jude Thaddaeus Ruwa'ichi O.F.M.Cap. of Mwanza, Tanzania.
15. Archbishop Jairo Jaramillo Monsalve of Barranquilla, Colombia.
16. Archbishop Paul Yembuado Ouedraogo of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.
17. Archbishop William Slattery O.F.M. of Pretoria, South Africa.
18. Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello S.D.B. of Santiago de Chile, Chile.
19. Archbishop Paul Stagg Coakley of Oklahoma City, U.S.A.
20. Archbishop Murilo Sabastiao Ramos Krieger of San Salvador da Bahia,Brazil.
21. Archbishop Marjan Turnsek of Maribor, Slovenia.
22. Archbishop Remi Joseph Gustave Sainte-Marie M.Afr. of Lilongwe, Malawi.
23. Archbishop Gerard-Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec, Canada.
24. Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles, U.S.A.
25. Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad, India.
26. Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Benin City, Nigeria.
27. Archbishop Vincenzo Bertolone S.D.P. of Catanzaro-Squillace, Italy.
28. Archbishop Luis María Perez de Onraita Aguirre of Malanje, Angola.
29. Archbishop Jose Manuel Imbamba of Saurimo, Angola.
30. Archbishop Jacinto Bergmann of Pelotas, Brazil.
31. Archbishop Helio Adelar Rubert of Santa María, Brazil.
32. Archbishop Pedro Ercilio Simon of Passo Fundo, Brazil.
33. Archbishop Charles Henry Dufour of Kingston in Jamaica, Jamaica.
34. Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff, Wales.
35. Archbishop Fernando Natalio Chomali Garib of Concepcion, Chile.
36. Archbishop Dimas Lara Barbosa of Campo Grande, Brazil.
37. Archbishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve Mejia of Cali, Colombia.
38. Archbishop Pierre Marie Carre of Montpellier, France.
39. Archbishop Sergio Da Rocha of Brasilia, Brazil.
40. Archbishop Sergio Lasam Utleg of Tuguegarao, Philippines.
The following five metropolitan archbishops will receive the pallium in their respective sees:
41. Archbishop Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta of Semarang,Indonesia.
42. Archbishop Guire Poulard of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
43. Archbishop John Barwa S.V.D. of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, India.
44. Archbishop Lewis Zeigler of Monrovia, Liberia.
45. Archbishop Pascal N'koue of Parakou, Benin.
VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At the end of this morning's Mass, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.
Before the Marian prayer Benedict XVI apologised to pilgrims for his late arrival due, he said, to the fact that "the Mass in honour of Sts. Peter and Paul was long and beautiful. Our thoughts went to that fine hymn of the Church of Rome which begins: 'O Roma felix!'. Today, on the Feast of ... the patrons of this city we sing: 'Joy, Rome, because you were stained with the precious blood of such great Princes. Not for your praise, but for their merits, do you surpass all beauty".
"St. Peter's and St. Paul's witness of love and faithfulness illumines the pastors of the Church, guiding men to truth and moulding them to faith in Christ. St. Peter in particular represents the unity of the apostolic college. For this reason, during this morning's liturgical celebration in the Vatican Basilica, I imposed the pallium on forty metropolitan archbishops, as an expression of their communion with the bishop of Rome in the mission to guide the people of God to salvation".
"The faith professed by Peter is the foundation of the Church", Benedict XVI said. Peter's primacy is divine predilection, as is the priestly vocation: 'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you', said Jesus, 'but my Father in heaven'. This is what happens to those who decided to respond to God's call with the whole of their lives. I happily reiterate this today as I celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of my own ordination.
"Thank you for your presence and for your prayers", the Pope added. "I am grateful to you. Above all, I am grateful to the Lord for His call and for the ministry He has entrusted to me. I thank everyone who, on this occasion, has expressed support for my mission with prayer, the prayer which incessantly rises to God from all ecclesial communities, and becomes adoration of the Eucharistic Christ, increasing the power and freedom to announce the Gospel".
The Holy Father concluded his remarks by again greeting "the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, present today in Rome for the significant custom of venerating Sts. Peter and Paul and sharing my hope in the unity of Christians, as the Lord wished. Trustingly we invoke the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, that all the baptised may become as 'living stones' which build theKingdom of God".