Benedict XVI on Sts. Peter and Paul
"Columns and Foundation of the City of God"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 1, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address, before and after praying the Angelus on Thursday, solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Today we honor solemnly Sts. Peter and Paul, "Apostles of Christ, columns and foundation of the city of God," as today's liturgy says. Their martyrdom was to be considered as the true and proper act of the birth of the Church of Rome.
The two apostles rendered their supreme testimony in a short distance of time and space one from the other: Here, in Rome, St. Peter was crucified and subsequently St. Paul was decapitated.
Their blood was fused therefore almost in one sole testimony of Christ, which drove St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, in the middle of the second century, to speak of the "Church founded and constituted in Rome by the two most glorious Apostles Peter and Paul" ("Against Heresies" III, 3, 2).
Shortly after, from North Africa, Tertullian exclaimed: "This Church of Rome, how blessed she is! It was the Apostles themselves, who with their blood, poured out to her the whole doctrine" ("Prescription against the Heretics," 36).
Precisely because of this, the Bishop of Rome, Successor of the Apostle Peter, carries out a particular ministry of service of the doctrinal and pastoral unity of the people of God spread throughout the world.
In this context one also understands better the meaning of the rite that we renewed this morning, during the holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, that is, the reception of the pallium, ancient liturgical insignia, which expresses the special communion of these pastors with the Successor of Peter.
My greetings go to these venerated brother archbishops and to all those who accompanied them, while I invite all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to pray for them and for the Churches entrusted to them.
There is still another reason that renders our joy even greater today: It is the presence in Rome, on the occasion of the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, of a special delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I.
To the members of this delegation I reiterate with affection my welcome and heartfelt gratitude to the patriarch, for rendering even more manifest with this gesture the existing bond of fraternity between our Churches.
May Mary, Queen of the Apostles, whom we invoke with trust, obtain for Christians the gift of full unity.
With her help and following in the footsteps of St. Peter and St. Paul, may the Church that is in Rome and all the people of God offer the world a testimony of unity and courageous dedication to the Gospel of Christ.
[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father added:]
I am following events in the Holy Land with concern and I pray that all those who have been abducted may soon be returned to their loved ones.
I appeal to Israeli and Palestinian leaders that, with the generous help of the international community, they may seek responsibly for that negotiated end to the conflict, which alone can ensure the peace to which their people aspire.
[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in six languages. In English, he said:]
I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today's solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. In a special way, I welcome all those who are accompanying their metropolitan archbishops for the reception of the pallium.
May you continue to accompany them with your prayers and devoted support. To all of you I impart my apostolic blessing. Happy feast of Sts. Peter and Paul!
© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Pope Benedict XVI - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000
Pope, Benedict, Saint, Peter, Paul, Address, Angelus, God
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