1. The Church celebrates the feast of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul: the fisherman of Galilee, who was first to profess faith in Christ; the teacher and doctor, who proclaimed salvation to the Gentiles (see Preface). By the will of Divine Providence, they both went to Rome where they suffered martyrdom in the course of a few years. Henceforth the city, which was the capital of a great empire, was called to quite another glory: to host the Apostolic See, which presides over the universal mission of the Church to spread in the world the Gospel of Christ, Redeemer of man and of history.
2. This year, today’s solemnity is gladdened by the presence of His Holiness Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, whom I had the joy of welcoming and greeting a short while ago. His kind visit has a particular motive: 40 years ago, specifically in January 1964, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I met in Jerusalem and exchanged a fraternal embrace. That embrace became a symbol of the desired reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, as well as a prophecy of hope on the path toward full unity among all Christians.
I have invited Patriarch Bartholomew I to participate in the holy Mass at which I will preside this afternoon at 6 p.m. in St. Peter’s Square. Together we will deliver the homily and proclaim our common profession of faith.
Also in the course of today’s celebration, I will have the joy of bestowing the pallium on the metropolitan archbishops nominated in the last year. It is a traditional sign of communion between the See of Rome and the Churches spread throughout the world, which is situated in the context of the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
3. To the two eminent patrons I entrust in a special way the beloved Diocese of Rome, as well as the capital’s civil community. Invoking their intercession together with that of Mary Most Holy, salvation of the Roman people, let us pray so that every man and every woman will receive the message of love for which Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom.
[Translation by ZENIT]