.- The Holy Father explained, in today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, the significance of the Pallium which he imparted to 44 archbishops yesterday, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.
John Paul II made only a very brief mention of the Pallium during yesterday’s Mass, owing to the occasion of the historic attendance of Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople, with whom the Pope shared the homily, in order to commemorate “the forty years of the historical embrace” between Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem.
During today’s audience the Pope recalled the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, yesterday, who are so venerated in Rome, “where they sealed their admirable witness of love for the Lord with blood.”
During the celebration, he continued, “forty-four metropolitan archbishops received the pallium. This “special liturgical insignia,” which is a white stole made of lambs' wool worn around the neck, expresses “communion with the Bishop of Rome.”
John Paul II said that the pallium “expresses the fundamental principle of communion that gives shape to ecclesial life in all aspects; it reminds us that this communion is organic and hierarchal; it expresses the fact that the Church, since it is one, needs the special service of the Church of Rome and its bishop, head of the Episcopal college.”
The rite of the pallium, he added, also highlights “the universality of the Church,” sent "by Christ to announce the Gospel to all nations and to serve humanity.”
The Pope concluded by inviting the faithful to help the metropolitans, “to remain united to them and to pray for the pastoral mission that they have been entrusted with. I also am thinking of the eight metropolitans who are not present today and who received the pallium in their own sees.”
Today’s general audience was the last audience that the Holy Father will celebrate before his short vacation in Valle D'Aosta in the Italian Alps from July 5 to 17.