New Archbishops Find Pallium Shows Their Ties to Pope, Parishioners

Catholic News Service – June 29, 2009 – By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Receiving the woolen pallium from the pope underlines an archbishop’s unique ties to the vicar of Christ in Rome and to his own flock of parishioners back home, said a number of archbishops from the United States and Canada.

The pallium “strikes me as somewhat of a wedding ring — that we are intimately bound to our people — our sheep — as shepherds,” said Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, “and we’re also bound to the universal pastor of the church, Pope Benedict XVI.”

Archbishop Dolan was one of 34 bishops from 20 countries who received the white, narrow circular band called a pallium during a special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica June 29. He and four other U.S. archbishops spoke to reporters after the ceremony.

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans said it was “a very powerful experience” to see the tremendous diversity and universality of the Catholic Church during the ceremony.

After the pope gently placed the woolen band over his shoulders, it was very moving “to have that connectedness with the Holy Father wearing a pallium similar to his,” said the New Orleans native.

“And to have that opportunity again to pledge loyalty and obedience and respect to (the pope) as the vicar of Christ is a powerful and touching event,” he said.

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit said the ceremony made Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” come alive.

Taking part in the intimate ceremony with the pope underlined “this profound sense of the living, organic reality of the church; that Peter isn’t an idea, Peter continues to live in the presence of the pope” thorough “a living chain,” he said.

He said he saw the many different ways members of the universal church are connected to one another and that he was grateful “to belong to the same family as Sts. Peter and Paul and do some of their same work.”

Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Neb., said it felt like a dream to be able to celebrate the June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul above the tomb of St. Peter and receive the pallium and blessings from the pope and to feel such solidarity with him.

Archbishop Lucas said he was praying he would have the same “kind of pastoral effect that I think the Holy Father has on all of us in the church.” He said he sees the pope as being “a very benevolent pastor” and he would like to imitate and share that quality with the people in his new archdiocese.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis said this was his 25th year as a bishop and that St. Louis would be his fourth diocese.

“I’ve had a really hard time holding down a job,” he joked. But he said he has been blessed with meeting and working with so many wonderful people over the years “who have touched me so deeply.”

He said the Mass was “a deeply moving experience of faith for me” and that it gave him an opportunity to reflect on the faith of the people in St. Louis and how privileged he feels to be there.

Many of the archbishops were accompanied by a dozen or hundreds of friends, family and faithful for the pilgrimage to Rome.

Pope Benedict held a special audience with the archbishops and nearly 1,000 members of their friends and family in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall June 30.

The pastors found many opportunities to pray and celebrate with their pilgrims.

Archbishop Vigneron said when Catholics come to Rome they often get a sense that Rome is their city, too.

“Romans are generally quite good at that: they have this city as a kind of trust and that anybody who belongs to the church has kind of a citizenship in Rome and I think that’s a beautiful experience,” he said.

Canadian Archbishops Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski, Quebec, and J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Colombia, also received their palliums June 29.

They led their pilgrims on a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and shared a brief prayer with them there June 27.

Archbishop Miller told Catholic News Service during the chapel tour that he was traveling with pilgrims from Vancouver and Texas, where he served as president of the University of St. Thomas in Houston from 1997-2004.

Having the faithful accompany a bishop “is wonderful” because it is “a sign of being a shepherd with members of our flock. For them it is a moment when they are linked through their bishops to the pope,” he said.

Archbishop Miller also said that for him the pallium is “a sign that my burden is light — it’s not all heaviness. It’s also a reminder that as shepherds we need to go where the sheep gather, those who have wandered, those who are not practicing their faith. We need to find them and bring them back.”

Archbishop Fournier said it was very meaningful for him to receive his pallium on the same day Pope Benedict was signing his first social encyclical because the symbolism of the pallium “is carrying around my shoulders the sheep, especially the poor.”

He said he depends on Christ’s love in order to handle the responsibilities of being a bishop. “You can go through everything if you focus on his love,” he said, adding it is Christ who really wears the pallium, carrying his flock and his disciples.


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