During the celebration of the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco, noted the importance the Successor to St Peter’s service has meant to the international community in recent history.
“The symbol of the Pope,” he said, “in the 19th and 20th centuries resulted in the Church becoming missionary, bringing the Gospel to the far corners of the world.”
Thus, “the history of the international community in the 20th century cannot be understood without the service of the Successor to St. Peter,” the cardinal said during the vigil Mass for the solemnity.
"We must keep in mind the historical memory of the last two centuries,” the cardinal continued, “of how the memory of Peter has grown in significance both inside and outside the Church."
Recalling himself some of this history, Cardinal Rouco noted that “on the eve of the election of Pope Pius VIII, certain radical and secular publications announced the end of the papacy; the conclave did not take place in Rome, but rather clandestinely in Venice, at a time in which the Church was isolated and persecuted.”
Nevertheless, the cardinal explained, “the Pope was never more venerated in the history of the Church than starting from that time. The love of the faithful began to grow.”
John Paul II and Benedict XVI
“The funeral of John Paul II and the first steps in the Petrine ministry of Benedict XVI make it clear: [the papacy] is a moral point of reference and of unity for all Christians,” Cardinal Rouco maintained.
“In this context, we remember the Pope today,” he said, underscoring that today “more than ever” the Pope needs our prayers, “so that he will be an excellent witness to the truth, that it may be lived and shared by all Christians, that we may not forget that we are consecrated by our baptism and filled with light.”