Vatican City, Jan 29, 2015 / 16:35 pm
As a sign of “synodality” with local Churches, Pope Francis has decided that new metropolitan archbishops will officially be imposed with the pallium in their home diocese, rather than the Vatican.
“The meaning of this change is to put more emphasis on the relationship of the metropolitan archbishops – the newly nominated – with their local Church,” Mons. Guido Marini, Papal Master of Ceremonies, told Vatican Radio Jan. 29.
By having the official imposition ceremony in the archbishop’s home diocese, more faithful and bishops in dioceses under the archbishop’s jurisdiction will be able to attend the event, “which is so meaningful to them,” he said.
The pallium is a white wool vestment, adorned with six black silk crosses. Dating back to at least the fifth century, the wearing of the pallium by the Pope and metropolitan archbishops symbolizes authority as well as unity with the Holy See.
Traditionally the Pope bestows the stole to the new archbishops June 29 each year, which is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. The rite is a sign of communion with the See of Peter.
It also serves as a symbol of the metropolitan archbishop’s jurisdiction in his own diocese as well as the other particular dioceses within his ecclesiastical province.
The title of “metropolitan bishop” refers to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis, namely, the primary city of an ecclesiastical province or regional capital.
Mons. Marini said moving the official ceremony of imposition to the local level doesn’t take anything away, but rather “keeps the whole meaning of the June 29 celebration, which underscores the relationship of communion and also of hierarchal communion between the Holy Father and the new archbishops.”
At the same time, he noted, “this adds – with a significant gesture – this bond with the local Church.”
In a Jan. 12 letter to apostolic nuncios in countries where a new metropolitan archbishop is set to receive the traditional pallium this year, Mons. Marini said that the decision “will greatly favor the participation of the local Church in an important moment of its life and history.”
He also said that Pope Francis believes this new custom will advance “that journey of synodality in the Catholic Church which, from the beginning of his pontificate, he has constantly emphasized as particularly urgent and precious at this time in the history of the Church.”
Pope Francis made the decision regarding the change in custom “after a long reflection and upon receiving advice which he had requested,” Marini noted in his letter.
The Pope, he explained, will bless the palliums during the June 29 Mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in the Vatican as usual, but they will placed on the shoulders of new metropolitan archbishop “in his own diocese, by his representative, the Apostolic Nuncio.”
Each of the new metropolitan archbishops are invited to concelebrate the June 29 Mass and blessing of the palliums in the Vatican, where they will then receive the stole “in a private manner, from the hands of the Holy Father.”
Afterward, Mons. Marini said that it will be up to the nuncios to decide on a day and time to “publicly and officially” invest the archbishop with the pallium “by mandate of the Holy Father.”
Other bishops under the jurisdiction of the new metropolitan archbishops are expected to attend the ceremony for their new shepherd.
The imposition ceremony is “enriched” by this new aspect of community at the local level, Mons. Marini told Vatican Radio, saying that the dynamic of communion generated by the change is “very beautiful.”
There are 551 metropolitan archdioceses throughout the world. Among the archbishops appointed so far this year to serve these sees is Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago.