In a ceremony, the origins of which go back to the early centuries of the Christian era, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Sydney's new Archbishop, Dr George Pell, together with other recently appointed Metropolitan archbishops, received the pallium from the Pope in Rome.
The pallium is a circular band of white woollen cloth, with pendants at front and back, worn over the chasible. It is worn only by the Holy Father and Metropolitan archbishops, and symbolises the archbishops' participation in the supreme pastoral power of the Pope. At the time of receiving it, archbishops swear an oath of allegiance, as proof of their fidelity to the Pope and the Holy See.
The unity which it symbolises reflects the universal character of the Church, and acts as a powerful corrective to the idea of national churches (e.g. the "Dutch Church", the "American Church" or the "Australian Church"), and to a so-called "egalitarian" model, which rejects the hierarchical character of the Church established on earth by Jesus Christ in His command to the Apostles, and reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council.
It also emphasises the unity which exists between the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, and the Holy See.
That unity is founded on three propositions which have been believed by Christians since the foundation of the Church on the first Pentecost: the divinity of Jesus Christ; His commission to Simon, son of Jonah, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it", and to the apostles, "He who hears you, hears Me".
Throughout the world, Christianity faces great challenges, not the least of which is the increasingly secular, utilitarian culture of Western society. By fidelity to its mission, Christians can transform that culture.
Peter Westmore: Publisher (E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org)