Although they carried out different missions, Saints Peter and Paul together form the foundation of the “one, holy, Catholic, Apostolic” Church, said Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday. The Pope celebrated Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on the solemnity of the two saints and later led the Angelus in St. Peter's Square.
Greeting those present in the square, the Pope explained that the celebration of the Apostles Peter and Paul is a celebration of the Church's sacred roots. Both saints, he noted, are buried in the cathedrals in Rome dedicated to them.
The Holy Father spoke of Peter's profession of faith to Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This declaration from the humble fisherman of Galilee is not the product of reason, he said, but a revelation of the Father, as confirmed by Jesus, who responded by saying that “neither flesh nor blood has revealed this to you.”
“Simon Peter is so close to the Lord that he himself becomes a rock of faith and love on which Jesus built his Church,” the Pope said, noting that Jesus goes on to tell Peter, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
The Pontiff also recalled the life of St. Paul and the millennium celebration of his birth. He reflected on St. Paul's commitment to spreading the Gospel and sharing the Truth with the Gentiles.
Despite their different gifts and missions, these two patron saints of Rome both form the foundation of the “one, holy, Catholic, Apostolic” Church, which today is present in the world to proclaim and bear witness to the essential mystery of communion, said the Holy Father.
In light of the Church's mission, the Pope recalled that he had bestowed the pallium on 38 metropolitan archbishops that morning. The pallium symbolizes communion with the Bishop of Rome and reminds of the mission to feed the flock of Christ with love, he explained.
The Holy Father also thanked members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who attended the Mass. Their presence, he said, reflects the spiritual bond between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople.
Urging the faithful to follow the example of Sts. Peter and Paul, he then turned in prayer to the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, who guides and supports the people of God on their journey.
After the Angelus, the Pope asked the faithful to pray for the archbishops who had just received the pallium, that through the intercession of the Apostles, “they will be heralds of the Gospel and true models of pastoral charity to the flock.”