By Catholic News Service
Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli was among the 30 Archbishops to last week receive his pallium from Pope Francis, ahead of his first anniversary as Archbishop of Melbourne.
Joining Archbishop Comensoli to receive the blessed palliums were Archbishops Wilton Gregory of Washington, Michael Byrnes of Agana, Guam, Peter Hundt of St John’s, Newfoundland and John Wilson of Southwark, England.
A pallium was also blessed for Archbishop Michael Mulhall of Kingston, Ontario, who was unable to attend.
Blessing the bands of wool that the Archbishops will wear around their shoulders over their Mass vestments, Pope Francis said it is a sign that the shepherds do not live for themselves but for the sheep.
“It is a sign that, in order to possess life, we have to lose it, give it away,” the Holy Father said during his homily at Mass for the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul on 29 June.
Benedictine nuns at the Monastery of St Cecilia in Rome use wool from lambs blessed by the Pope each year on the 21 January feast of St Agnes to make the palliums, which are kept by St Peter’s tomb until the Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
The palliums are about three 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 Comensoli received his pallium at the end of the Australian bishops’ weeklong Ad Limina visit to Rome.
“The pallium, for me at least, is that sense of recognising why I’m sent,” Archbishop Comensoli said.
“It’s an acknowledgment of what I am called to be – which is the Shepherd of God’s people in Melbourne,” he added.
In the more than two hours they spent with Pope Francis and in meetings with leaders of the offices of the Roman Curia, Archbishop Comensoli said the two top topics discussed were on the sexual abuse crisis and the ongoing process of the Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia.
Together those topics shape where the Church in Australia is and where it hopes to go, he said.
A Plenary Council is a rare gathering of all the Bishops of a country in a Synod-like meeting, but one that has legislative powers.
In 2018, Pope Francis approved the convocation of the Plenary Council and some 220,000 people have participated in Listening and Dialogue sessions or by making written suggestions.