Dear Friends in the Risen Christ,
Last Sunday in Rome – Divine Mercy Sunday – the city and the world gathered to witness the Canonization Mass of the two beloved popes John XXIII and John Paul II.
Our current Holy Father Pope Francis was formally petitioned and then made the declaration of sainthood for the two late pontiffs at the begininning the Eucharistic celebration (the pdf liturgical booklet is here) in St Peter’s Square, Rome. The Holy Father’s homily is here.
The crowds were enormous with, of course, a huge number of Polish pilgrims – but also from all corners of the earth – all of whom had clearly made great sacrifices to be present in St Peter’s Square and the surrounding streets and squares in Rome.
Although I was not there in person – I watched the wonderful spectacle on the TV and was amazed by the numbers of people – especially young people – and the way that there was such a prayerful silence during the Mass.
I was particularly delighted that as many as twenty – mostly – young people from the Diocese attended the celebrations in Rome and remembered the intentions of the Diocese on their pilgrimage in honour of these great – and saintly – successors of Peter – and now officially ‘models of holiness’.
It was great joy to see Pope Emeritus Benedict present for the Mass and concelebrating along with the Cardinals –including our own Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
There were priests in Rome too!
As well as almost a million people in Rome many heads of state or their representatives also attended given the significance of the event – a moment in history.
Clearly, the reason for this great outpouring of affection is that these two popes have had a very profound and pronounced influence on the history of the world and the history of the Church.
Pope John XXIII, proved to be no ‘caretaker’ pope and surprised the world initiating the great renewal in the Church with the Second Vatican Council. He really began the great ecumenical movement in the life of the Church which is still working itself out for us today.
Many in Britain remember with grateful affection wonderful Pastoral Visit of Pope John Paul II to our countries in 1982.
And so it is also that many of our young people from our Diocese have had the opportunity to travel to World Youth Days throughout the world – these days were the initiative of Pope St John Paul II!
In fact, Pope John Paul II made more than 100 missionary trips throughout the world, and because of this was seen by many millions of people around the world. It is said he was seen in person by more people than anyone else in the history of the world.
Back at home this week, I’ve had various meetings including on Wednesday a meeting of the Trustees of the Royal English College, Valladolid – and so enjoying the wonderful hospitality of Archbishop Bernard Longley at Archbishop’s House, Birmingham.
From here, I travelled on Thursday morning to Liverpool for the Mass of Installation of its new Archbishop, Bishop Malcom McMahon OP, formerly Bishop of Nottingham. The liturgical setting for the Mass of Installation was the splendid Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.
A large number of bishops concelebrated the Mass with Archbishop Malcolm. As well as the large attendance of clergy and laity from the Liverpool Archdiocese, many travelled from Nottingham and elsewhere to be present for the occasion.
The new Archbishop was conducted to his ‘cathedra’ or Episcopal chair, the symbol of his teaching authority as pastor by Bishop Thomas Williams who was Apostolic Administrator during the vacancy following Archbishop Kelly’s resignation.
The Archbishop’s task now is to proclaim the fullness of the gospel to the people of the archdiocese of Liverpool. The presence of the Apostolic Nuncio, the papal representative, underlined the communion of the new archbishop with Pope Francis, the successor of Peter, and that precious link which we call apostolic succession.
Archbishop McMahon specifically chose the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker to begin his Episcopal ministry in the See of Liverpool, and in his homily drew lessons from the character of the Saint for the life of the Church today.
As guardian of the Holy Family, Joseph carried and was carried by the Son of God, emblematic for us as believers and witnesses in our world. The Archbishop also noted how Joseph by taking Mary as his wife broke with the conventions of his day and so obeyed God’s will.
We Catholics also should not be afraid to move out and, as it were, break new ground. The Archbishop gave us all much to think about in his installation homily. The full text of his homily is here.
The Catholic Church in Liverpool, West Lancashire and the Isle of Man now rejoices that it has once again a chief pastor to shepherd it in the ways of the Lord.
As our own Metropolitan, we wish Archbishop Malcom well in his new ministry and assure him of our prayers and support from north of the Ribble!
As ever in Christ Jesus,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster