On Sts. Peter and Paul

“The Two Great Apostles Are the ‘Wings’ of Knowledge of God”

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Wednesday on the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and on the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination, before praying the Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Excuse the long delay. The Mass in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul was long and beautiful. And we also thought of that beautiful hymn of the Church of Rome which begins: “O Roma felix!” Today, on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of this city, we sing thus: “Happy Rome, because you were reddened by the precious blood of such great Princes. Not for your praise, but for their merits every beauty surpasses!” As the hymns of the Eastern tradition sing, the two great Apostles are the “wings” of knowledge of God, who went through the earth to its furthermost boundaries and were raised to heaven; they are also the “hands” of the Gospel of grace, and “feet” of the truth of the proclamation, the “rivers” of wisdom, the “arms” of the cross (Cf. MHN, t. 5, 1988).

The testimony of love and fidelity of Sts. Peter and Paul illumines the pastors of the Church, to lead men to truth, forming them in faith in Christ. St. Peter, in particular, represents the unity of the Apostolic College. For this reason, during the liturgy celebrated this morning in the Vatican Basilica, I imposed on 40 Metropolitan Archbishops the pallium, which manifests communion with the Bishop of Rome in the mission of leading the People of God to salvation. St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, wrote that the Church of Rome “propter potentiorem principalitatem [because of her peculiar principality] must converge every other Church, that is, the faithful that are everywhere, because guarded in her always has been the tradition that comes from the Apostles” (Adversus Haereses, III, 3, 2); thus it was in the 2nd century.

It is the faith professed by Peter that constitutes the foundation of the Church: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” — reads the Gospel of Matthew (16:16). Peter’s primacy is divine predilection, as is also the priestly vocation. “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you — says Jesus — but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). So it happens to the one who decides to respond to God’s call with the totality of his life. I recall it gladly on this day, in which fulfilled for me is the 60th anniversary of my priestly Ordination. Thank you for your presence, for your prayers! I am grateful to you, I am grateful above all to the Lord for his call and for the ministry entrusted to me, and I thank those who, in this circumstance, have manifested their closeness and support of my mission with prayer, which rises incessantly to God from every ecclesial community (cf. Acts 12:5), translated into adoration of the Eucharistic Christ to augment strength and liberty in proclaiming the Gospel.

In this climate, I am happy to greet cordially the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, present today in Rome, in keeping with the significant custom to venerate Sts. Peter and Paul and to share with me the hope for Christian unity willed by the Lord. Let us invoke with trust the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, so that every baptized person will become increasingly a “living stone” that builds the Kingdom of God.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, on the feast of the Holy Patrons of Rome I wish to address a special greeting to the faithful of my Diocese, as well as to the parish priests and to all priests involved in pastoral work. I extend to all the citizenry my wish for peace and goodness! 

[In English he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present in Rome for this Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. I am especially happy to greet the Metropolitan Archbishops who have received the Pallium today, accompanied by their relatives and friends. May the courageous example of the Apostles Peter and Paul inspire the Archbishops as they preach the life-giving word of God. May all Christians, following in the footsteps of Peter and Paul, bear courageous witness to the Gospel that sets us free. God bless you all!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I address, finally, to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, in particular those who came to welcome the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed in the past year, who this morning received the Pallium, sign of communion with the See of Peter. I wish all a pilgrimage rich in fruits. Happy feast to you all. Thank you!

[Translation by ZENIT]
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