With the above words Pope Francis concluded his homily at the Mass on the Feast of Ss Peter & Paul, 29 June 2015. Traditionally on this day the Pope gives the ‘Pallium’ (the band of white wool adorned with black crosses symbolising the sheep placed on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd and worn by the Pope and the archbishops as a sign of communion) to the Archbishops appointed during the preceding year. This year the Pope decided he would simply bless the Pallia and that they would be imposed on each Archbishop when he returns to his own diocese, as a sign of the unity of the bishops throughout the world.
Among the 46 new Archbishops there were two Irish: Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA of Cashel and Emly.
After the blessing of the Pallia the Pope celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Basilica with several thousand people, many coming from the countries of the new Archbishops.
And again, as is customary on this feast of the patrons of Rome, there was a delegation representing the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I.
In his homily Pope Francis spoke about the courage of the apostles when the first Christian community was beset by persecution, and recalled that in our days too we are witnessing “atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible” persecutions, often “under the silent gaze of all”, and exhorted the metropolitan archbishops to “teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing, and offer witness by living”.
“Dear Archbishops … by these Palliums, I wish to entrust you with this call to prayer, to faith and to witness.
The Church wants you to be men of prayer, masters of prayer; that you may teach the people entrusted to your care that liberation from all forms of imprisonment is uniquely God’s work and the fruit of prayer; that God sends his angel at the opportune time in order to save us from the many forms of slavery and countless chains of worldliness. For those most in need, may you also be angels and messengers of charity!”
Read the complete text of the Pope’s homily here.