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At Pallium Mass, Archbishops Called to Be Ministers of Unity

Pope Francis greets Orthodox Metropolitan John of Pergamon after praying with him at the tomb of St. Peter at the conclusion of Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 29 June. The pope presented woolen palliums to 34 archbishops during the liturgy. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring) 

02 Jul 2013 – By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Every bishop is called to be “a servant of communion,” working tirelessly to overcome divisions so that differences become a treasure and not a source of conflict, Pope Francis said.

The Christian community should be “like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan,” the pope said on 29 June as he celebrated the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and bestowed the pallium on 34 archbishops from 19 countries.

The pallium is a woolen band that symbolizes an archbishop’s unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him. Archbishops wear the pallium around their shoulders over their liturgical vestments when celebrating the liturgy in their regions. A pope also wears one, although his is marked with red crosses, while an archbishop’s has black crosses.

The archbishops, named in the past year, included: U.S. Archbishops Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco; Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis; Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Ore.; and Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa; Canadian Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas, Manitoba; and U.S.-born Archbishop Gintaras Grusas of Vilnius, Lithuania.

Only seven of the 34 were named archbishops by Pope Francis, who was elected in March. The first of Pope Francis’ archbishops was his successor as head of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Archbishop Mario Poli.

Wearing red vestments to mark the feast of the martyred Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Francis said the role he and the bishops have in the church must be founded on faith in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit.

“Whenever we let our thoughts, our feelings or the logic of human power prevail, and we do not let ourselves be taught and guided by faith, by God, we become stumbling blocks,” he told the archbishops during the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. “Faith in Christ is the light of our life as Christians and as ministers in the church.”

St. Paul spoke about “fighting the good fight,” which “is not one of those fights fought with human weapons which sadly continue to cause bloodshed throughout the world,” the pope said. The “good fight” of a Christian is giving one’s entire life to serving the Gospel.

“The bishop of Rome himself is called to live and confirm his brothers and sisters in this love for Christ and for all others, without distinction, limits or barriers,” he said.

Pope Francis said that when he gave the archbishops their palliums as a sign of communion, it was not a request for uniformity or for ignoring the differences that made the Mass a reminder of Pentecost, when people of every language and nation heard the disciples speaking their own language.

“This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the church,” the pope said at the Mass with a delegation from the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople seated near the altar and the Lutheran St. Thomas Boys Choir from Leipzig, Germany, singing.

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Tags: Pope Francis Ecumenism Christian Unity Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I