St. Peter is the “touchstone” of the apostles’ proclamation of Christ, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said upon taking possession of his titular Roman church of St. Peter in Chains.
“Today the voice and message, the proclamation and teaching of Peter continue to echo in our hearts because they echo throughout the whole world,” the cardinal said in his May 8 homily. “All of us have a special bond to Rome because Peter continues to live and exercise his ministry here. You, Romans, have the privilege of being the faithful members of the Church that claims Peter as its bishop.”
Cardinal Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, said that Catholics are at one with Romans in “the faith that recognizes the unique role of Peter.”
“I am grateful today to have the privilege of taking possession of this venerable church as the titular cardinal-priest,” he said in his homily, provided to CNA by the Archdiocese of Washington.
St. Peter in Chains is a minor basilica to the southeast of Vatican City. The church dates back at least to the fifth century and was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries. It houses a relic of the chains said to have bound St. Peter during his imprisonment in Jerusalem.
Much of the church architecture and many famous artworks in the church date from the Renaissance. The church also contains Michelangelo’s masterpiece statue of Moses.
All cardinals of the Catholic Church are given titles to churches in Rome to symbolize their roles as collaborators with the Pope and to establish the seat of their authority in the Diocese of Rome
Cardinal Wuerl continued his homily by noting the “joy and exultation” of Easter Sunday. He cited Peter’s proclamation “God raised Jesus and we are all witnesses.”
Jesus is “God’s great gift” and the first of many things for which we should be grateful, the cardinal added. He also praised the “gift of faith” and the God-given grace to respond to that gift.
The Church too is a gift, being “Christ’s continuing presence in the world.” Another gift is the Holy Father, the Church’s visible head, who is also a “touchstone” of Christian faith and unity.
“We come to profess our faith, our loyalty and our love for the Successor of Peter.” Cardinal Wuerl said.
However, the Eucharist is a greater gift still:
“In our celebration today we recognize and we proclaim that because we are members of the Church in communion with Peter and his successors, we not only hear the Good News that Christ is risen, but we actually recognize him in the breaking of the bread and share in the mystery of his death and Resurrection — in the Eucharist.”