Of the 34 recipients of the pallium, four were Americans: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco; Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis; Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland; and Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa.
We'll be happy to have Archbishop Sample back in Oregon leading his sheep and herding his goats towards Heaven
Archbishops reflect on the meaning of the pallium
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Making a pilgrimage to Rome with members of their flock, 34 archbishops named in the past year knelt before Pope Francis and received woolen bands symbolizing both their unity with him and their charge as shepherds of a local church.
At the beginning of a Mass June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope bestowed the pallium, a woolen band worn around the shoulders, on archbishops from 19 countries. They included: U.S. Archbishops Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco; Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis; Alexander K. Sample of Portand, Ore.; and Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa; and U.S.-born Archbishop Gintaras Grusas of Vilnius, Lithuania.
Each year on the Jan. 21 feast of St. Agnes, the pope blesses two lambs raised by Trappist monks outside Rome. Benedictine nuns at the Monastery of St. Cecilia in Rome use wool from the blessed lambs to make the palliums, which are kept by St. Peter's tomb until the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
The palliums are about 3 inches wide and have a 14-inch strip hanging down the front and the back. The strips are finished with black silk, almost like the hooves of the sheep the archbishop is symbolically carrying over his shoulders.
Archbishop Jackels, one of the first bishops appointed by Pope Francis, told Catholic News Service, "To be quite honest, I was kind of hoping that maybe he would send the pallium by way of FedEx and say, 'Save the money and give it to the poor.'"
"I love Rome, but it's a hassle to travel and to be away from the archdiocese since I've only been there a month," he said. However, the story of the blessed lambs and the nuns making the pallium and having all the archbishops come to Rome once a year to receive it underlines its importance.
"This notion of the lambs' wool being placed over the shoulders of an archbishop is reminiscent of Jesus, the good shepherd, carrying the sheep back to the fold," he said. It reminded him of Pope Francis' talk to nuncios a week earlier about the qualities they should look for when suggesting candidates for him to name as bishops: "someone who is patient, gentle, merciful, like that image of the Good Shepherd carrying his sheep."
Archbishop Jackels said that in receiving the pallium he would pray that he would be more patient, gentle and merciful.
Being Catholic in the United States today often means being countercultural, especially on themes related to "the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person," he said.
At the same time, he said, he was thinking about Vietnamese Archbishop Francois Xavier Le Van Hong of Hue, who the Vatican said would receive his pallium in Vietnam, and what it means to live in a situation where church-state relations are particularly delicate.
Archbishop Cordileone said receiving the pallium is "a tremendous honor and I'm very humbled, recognizing my unworthiness. It is not an honor to exalt someone, but is a sign of communion."
The bond with St. Peter and with his successor, the pope, is emphasized by the Vatican keeping the pallium near St. Peter's tomb, he said. "It's a very poignant sign of the communion we share -- the bishops throughout the world with the head of the College of Bishops, the pope, going all the way back to the time of the Apostles."
Archbishop Tobin said he was "a little dazed" kneeling in front of the pope; "all I could stammer out in Spanish was, 'You can count on us.'"
As archbishop of Indianapolis, he said he tries to help the pope in his mission of unity by "trying to keep our people connected" to one another, but especially to the needs of Catholics around the world.
"A disturbing thing I find returning to the United States," after years of service as the head of the Redemptorists and then as secretary of the Vatican congregation for religious, "is just how forgetful the news media is of the world beyond America's shores or beyond the latest scandal of a movie star, politician or priest."
"By keeping our people connected with the Holy Father and with the center of the Catholic Church, we're also being connected with the world," he said.
Archbishop Sample said kneeling in front of the pope was "one of the most incredible feelings I have ever had in my life," a moment of "profound communion" with the pope and with the universal church.
The pallium reminded him that he has been called to take up the Lord's yoke, "a burden that is heavy in one sense, but light because the Lord gives us the strength to carry it."
Pope Francis told the archbishops that they are called to be a "servant of unity," and Archbishop Sample said building communion was a priority when he was bishop of Marquette, Mich., and is still a priority now that he is in Portland. "There is a lot to celebrate in our diversity, especially our cultural diversity, but we are one, we're catholic -- that's what it means to be Catholic, to be one universal church united in mission."
U.S.-born Archbishop Grusas told CNS that receiving the pallium from the pope is a reminder that the archbishop is "placed in charge of the herd, but they aren't yours, they are entrusted to you."
The 51-year-old archbishop said the pallium ceremony also is "a symbol of our unity with the pope and of the universality of the church. We all tend to focus on our parish, our diocese, our nation, but the pallium emphasizes our direct tie with the pope."
In fact, before the archbishops received their pallium, they publically recited an oath of fidelity and obedience to the church and to the pope.
Receiving the pallium on the feast of the martyred Sts. Peter and Paul also carries a message, the Lithuanian archbishop said. The shepherds are called to give their lives for their sheep, either with the shedding of their blood in times of persecution or by "going out into a society that isn't very receptive, a society that tries to isolate you and limit your ability to proclaim your views."
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Contributing to this story was Francis X. Rocca in Rome.
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