The Pallium, Peter and Paul

Amy reports on the ceremony of the Pope conferring the pallium on new Archbishops on this feast day of SS Peter and Paul.
Here is what I love about the Catholic Church: the sense of unity, coherence and sacramentality of it all. In a world riven asunder with every kind of religious opinion under the sun, in the Christian Church torn apart and fragmented into tens of thousands of sects, consider the integral unity of the Catholic Church.
There on the ancient feast of SS Peter and Paul, at the site of Peter’s tomb, and not far from the relics of St Paul, the historic successor of Peter bestows the sign of unity on his fellow Archbishops from around the world. They receive a garment made of lamb’s wool to symbolize their connection with the Lamb of God, but also to symbolize their shared role as shepherd. It echoes back to Peter’s epistle when even then he was sharing his pastoral role with the next generation of elders, and he calls them his ‘fellow shepherds.’

In this age of division between peoples, between religions, between sects the Catholic Church pulls from a continuous history a ceremony that is at once relevant and necessary today, and yet linking all of us through the hierarchy to the Pope and to the whole history of the Apostolic Church: there it is, not just as a theological theory or a good idea, not even as an interpretation of Scripture or a sermon, but it is expressed as liturgy–as the ‘work of the people’, and a work ‘of the people’ and ‘for the people’ of God.

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