Speech at Welcome Drinks, Domus Australia
Your Excellencies, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Foreign Minister of the Vatican, and Mr Paul McCarthy Ambassador of Australia, Captain Frowin Bachmann of the Swiss Guard, Reverend Fathers, fellow religious, seminarians, chancery members, dignitaries, Mum and Dad, family members, friends of the Archdiocese of Sydney and fellow pilgrims,
1414 years ago yesterday Pope St Gregory the Great was gloriously reigning here in Rome when he decided to write to Augustine of Canterbury, a Benedictine monk whom he had years earlier sent to England to evangelize the pagans there and lead the Church in England. Having sent clergy and “everything necessary for the worship and service of the Church”, he now wanted St Augustine to have a particular sign of his communion with him in the mission to the far West: he proposed to send him a “pallium”! In that letter despatched 1414 years ago today he wrote:
“We grant you the privilege of wearing the pallium in that Church [of the English] whenever you perform the solemnities of the Mass… You, my brother, are to exercise authority in the Name of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ [over the bishops of those parts]… Let Your Grace's words and example show them a pattern of right belief and holy life so that they may…attain the kingdom of heaven”.
Tonight, we have formally begun our pilgrimage that will come to its apogee next Monday at the Mass of Sts Peter and Paul at which the Holy Father will at the Tomb of St Peter bless the pallia to be imposed on his behalf on each new metropolitan Archbishop.
The pallium is said to derive from the ßìáôéïí of the Greeks, adopted by the Romans and known amongst them as the pallium. It was a woollen cloak which when folded could be worn over the shoulder and was especially favoured by philosophers. The Church father Tertullian wrote a little treatise On the Pallium explaining why he, like St Justin Martyr, wore it rather than the Roman toga: it was, he expounded, because Christians were heirs to all that was best in ancient Graeco-Roman philosophy as well as Jewish wisdom. Believe it or not there are fashions even in ecclesiastical garments, and so rather like the way that ties or trouser bottoms grow or shrink over the years, so the width and length of the pallium were gradually reduced until they reached their present size and shape: about 6cm wide, sewn in the form of a circle which is worn on the shoulders, with the two ends of the band hanging about 30cm down the chest and the back, and with six black crosses embroidered on white lambs' wool. It now looks rather like a football scarf.
Tomorrow, in the 4th century basilica below the 11th century one of San Clemente, we will see evidence that the Popes were already wearing the pallium in the early centuries: for we will see frescoes of Pope St Clement dressed with a prominent black and while pallium around his neck and shoulder. Though not evidence that the first bishops of Rome really wore it, the frescoes are indeed evidence that they normally did so by the middle of the first millennium. What's more, we know from yesterday's anniversary that by then the popes were also granting the pallium to certain bishops as an honour or sign of their close relationship with the Church of Rome. By the ninth century the Pope granted the pallium mainly to Metropolitans, that is to the Archbishops of significant metropolitan sees who exercised moral authority over the bishops of the “suffragan” or surrounding dioceses within their Province.
These days all Metropolitan Archbishops, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, and the Dean of the College of Cardinals, receive the pallium from the Pope. If a metropolitan is outside his province or retired he no longer wears it; if he is transferred to a new diocese he must receive a new one; and if he dies he is buried in it so it does not pass to someone else: each pallium is connected to a particular Archbishop's personal pastoral task in a particular province.
Until recent decades a newly appointed Metropolitan needed to receive his pallium before exercising some of his functions, such as ordaining or installing suffragan bishops, and consecrating churches, altars and the holy Chrism. Since the Second Vatican Council, however, it is no longer necessary for Metropolitans physically to receive the pallium before exercising their pastoral authority, which is convenient as I've already had to install a suffragan bishop, bless Chrism and consecrate a church!
Until recent decades the Pope sent the pallium to the Metropolitan and he was invested with it in his own city by a Papal Legate or other prelate; if he were in Rome anyway, for a consistory or the like, he might receive it directly from the Pope; and sometimes an Archbishop such as St Anselm went to Rome to collect theirs as a particular statement of their closeness to the pope rather than the secular authorities in their own country. With the ease of modern travel St John Paul II began the custom of imposing the pallium personally in Rome on the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul when it is blessed. But now, as we know, Pope Francis has changed this again: on Monday he will bless the pallia with the new Metropolitans present, then give each of us ours privately so it might go home with us for the Nuncio to impose it in the presence of the suffragan bishops – in my case the bishops of New South Wales – and the local people. For us this will be on 25th July. So 29 June and 25 July will be special occasions to mark, first, the communion between Pope and Archbishop; secondly, the communion between the Church of Rome and the Church of Sydney; and, thirdly, the communion between the mother Church of Sydney and each of the suffrgan dioceses of New South Wales. When Pope Gregory invested St Augustine with the pallium over fourteen centuries ago, it was already a sign of that kind of relationship. Pope Benedict explained that it has ever since been an outward sign of that communion between the Shepherds in the Church cum Petro et sub Petro. So it will be an enormous privilege to receive it on Monday and I will be very grateful to have you all by my side and representing the people of Sydney and beyond, representing my family and friends, my brother priests and friars.
My thanks in advance to all those who have planned our pilgrimage and are working to make it happen. Here at Domus Australia I think of the Rector Fr Andrew James, his staff and fellow priests, along with Annie Casey who in addition to running a husband is contributing to promoting and welcoming people here. Members of my Chancery team have contributed to planning and executing this pilgrimage, with the help of friends here in Rome. In particular Michael and Cathy Digges, Katrina Lee and Maria de Martin have been very busy bees for days now and will be in the days ahead. I thank them all in anticipation.
Protesting Blessed John Henry Newman's claims in his article On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine (1859), Monsignor George Talbot wrote that the laity should stay out of ecclesiastical matters and stick to their proper domain which is “to hunt, to shoot, to entertain.” To which Newman wryly responded that without the laity the Church would look rather foolish! So too a pilgrimage without pilgrims would be rather ridiculous. So I am delighted to welcome all of you who will join me over the next few days in filling out the significance of the pallium and connecting us more closely to Christ and to his saints such as Sts Peter and Paul, Sts Clement and Ignatius, Sts Dominic and Francis, Sts John the Baptist, Thomas Aquinas, Josemaria and others. I pray that it will be a time of spiritual renewal for us all – and a time of great fun. Thank you for being here, dear friends whom I love and thank God for!