Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 12, 1999
In union with Peter
Collins among 37 archbishops to receive pallium
By LYNNE WEIL
Catholic News Service
Receiving the pallium from Pope John Paul was a reminder of the universal Church, said Archbishop Thomas Collins.
"You see the pope and people from all over the world at this event," the archbishop said in an interview. "You're right there at the tomb of St. Peter. And you realize that all of this goes back in time to St. Peter and, through space, around the world."
Edmonton's new archbishop was one of 37 archbishops from around the world who received their pallium from the pope at a June 29 ceremony.
The archbishops reaffirmed their allegiance to the pope during the annual liturgy that emphasizes the Church's universality.
In an interview after the pallium ceremony, Collins said, "You get a real sense of the universal Church with a celebration like that."
The archbishop, who received a degree from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1978 and a doctorate from Gregorian University in 1986, said he was "very happy to be back in Rome - and for this occasion especially."
At the June 29 Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the pontiff presented the pallium - a white, wool band decorated with six small crosses - to each archbishop.
The sacred vestment, worn around the neck and shoulders with pendant strips at the breast and back, symbolizes full episcopal authority.
Archbishops named in the last year came to Rome for the ceremony. The only other Canadian was Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Halifax.
The Mass was held on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
In his homily, the pope noted both saints were martyred in Rome after devoting their lives to spreading Jesus' message, and both brought people across broad regions to the early Church.
"It is this faith which, through the centuries, has been diffused in all the world through the ministry and the witness of the Apostles and their successors," Pope John Paul said.
He told the gathering the communities entrusted to the archbishops were "called to offer, under your wise guidance, a courageous witness of faith to Christ and to his Gospel."
To visitors in St. Peter's Square during his noon blessing, the pope explained the pallium as "a liturgical sign that expresses communion with the See and the Successor of Peter."
The pope said the archbishops' "convocation with the bishop of Rome today shows in an eloquent way the catholic unity of the Church, diffused in every continent."
The following day, the pope told pilgrims at St. Peter's Square that the pallium signifies the archbishops' communion with the Church.
"The ancient rite by which the pope bestows the pallium upon newly named metropolitan archbishops is a symbol of the communion of the Church's pastors in the apostolic tradition," the pope said at his June 30 general audience.
"The pallium is also a reminder that each metropolitan shares in Peter's mission of strengthening the Church's unity in faith and fraternal love."
Pope John Paul noted in his audience talk that the pallium's wool was "a symbol of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd, whom the Church's pastors are called to imitate."
Holding the pallium ceremony near St. Peter's tomb, the pope said, "recalls his ultimate witness to the Lord" - his martyrdom in Rome. St. Paul also was put to death in that city, Pope John Paul pointed out.
The pope added that archbishops are "called to be among the principal builders of the unity of the Church, which expresses itself in the profession of the one faith and in fraternal charity."
Pope John Paul said archeological and academic studies dated the wearing of palliums to "the first centuries of the Christian era. We therefore find ourselves before an ancient tradition which has accompanied the church practically through all of its history."