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Pope at Pallium Mass: Freedom comes from welcoming Christ

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Sts Peter and Paul were great not just because of their zeal for the Gospel, but because they allowed Christ to enter their hearts and change their lives, Pope Francis said.

“The Church looks to these two giants of faith and sees two apostles who set free the power of the Gospel in our world, but only because first they themselves had been set free by their encounter with Christ,” the Pope said during his homily at Mass for the feast of Sts Peter and Paul June 29.

The feast day celebration in St Peter’s Basilica included the traditional blessing of the pallium, the woollen band that the heads of archdioceses wear around their shoulders over their Mass vestments.

The pallium symbolises an archbishop’s unity with the Pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the Pope entrusted to him. The Pope blessed the palliums after they were brought up from the crypt above the tomb of St Peter.

According to the Vatican, 34 archbishops from 18 countries who were named over the past 12 months were to receive the palliums, including: Canadian Archbishops Brian J Dunn of Halifax-Yarmouth and Marcel Damphousse of Ottawa-Cornwall; Filipino Cardinal José Advincula of Manila and Irish Archbishop Dermot P Farrell of Dublin.

“This sign of unity with Peter recalls the mission of the shepherd who gives his life for the flock,” the Pope told the archbishops before concluding his homily. “It is in giving his life that the shepherd, himself set free, becomes a means of bringing freedom to his brothers and sisters.”

Keeping with a long tradition, a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was present for the Mass and, afterward, went with Pope Francis down the stairs below the main altar to pray at St Peter’s tomb.