Pope says Church Hierarchical but Familial


30 June 08 - Pope Benedict XVI met with 40 Metropolitan Archbishops and their families Monday, the day after he had bestowed the Pallium upon them during mass in St Peter's Basilica.

Communion and the order of president in the Church, symbolised by the Pallium, was the focus of Pope Benedict's address to the Archbishops and their families as they gathered to meet with the Holy Father Monday.

Addressing the men first in Italian, the Pope underlined that while the structure of the Church temporal is hierarchical, it is at the same time familial. He stressed that the "image of the organic body of the Church is one of the strongest characteristics of St Paul's doctrine" urging these pastors to return to their home diocese and to carry the Apostle to the Gentiles teachings to their people, in celebrations to mark the jubilee year dedicated to St Paul.

Then turning to each language group the Pope named all 40 men, who this year have taken up the leadership of some of the main Metropolitan Archdiocese across the ecclesial world, starting with a greeting to the newly appointed Patriarch of Jerusalem, Palestinian Archbishop Faud Tawal.

In French the Pope addressed archbishops from Africa, the Caribbean and France before moving on to the group of English speaking Archbishops by far the most numerous group to receive the Pallium, Sunday.

Among the 14 prelates listening to the Pope's words Monday were Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi one of two Prelates from Kenya; three Archbishop's from the USA received the Pallium Sunday, among them Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore and two from Canada. But there was also a large presence from the Asian and South Pacific region, including Archbishop John Hung Shan-Chuan of Taipei (Taiwan) as well as Africa and the English speaking Caribbean.

Pope Benedict reminded all of these men that their missionary mandate is not without self sacrifice:
"The Pallium is worn by Metropolitan Archbishops as a symbol of their hierarchical communion with the Successor of Peter in the governance of God's People. It is made of sheepswool, as a symbol of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and the Good Shepherd who keeps vigilant watch over his flock".

"The Pallium reminds Bishops that, as vicars of Christ in their local Churches, they are called to be shepherds after the example of Jesus. As a symbol of the burden of the Episcopal office, it also reminds the faithful of their duty to support the Church's Pastors by their prayers and to cooperate generously with them for the spread of the Gospel and the growth of Christ's Church in holiness, unity and love".

Concluding Pope Benedict told the men as they return home to never forget that "the service of every Pastor must always be conditioned by his love for Christ, nothing can ever come before this".